Marking Time, in Several Senses

Added on by Doug Dowd.

I am deep in semester-ness, and the headspace for launching a large project is hard to come by. At least for me, until I am well into a project and have designed tasks of various scales to use for various intervals of available time, it's pointless to take a big dive. Fractions of days here and there don't cut it. Spartan Holiday 3 and 4 await, with the former written and content-dummied up into the magazine format, some pictures in production but the whole of it still gauzy in my mind. I need a running start for that. (The approach of spring break may help!) 

For now, I need smaller things to do and make. Regular readers know about my calendars, which I must somehow fashion if they are to be of any use to me. 

Last Saturday, I came within 10 hours of running out of time. That is, I had produced spreads for the first nine weeks of the year, but at the stroke of midnight on March 1, I would have been operating in time I had not pre-fabricated in my book. Call me a goober, but that's an anxiety-producing situation. Hence I buckled down and banged out another 7 weeks, with more to come soon. 

It's a pretty direct problem: lay out seven days. But I try to keep it fresh. This year I've decided to integrate collage pieces from a German encyclopedia published in 1896. When Robert Andrew Parker was in St. Louis on a visit about 10 years ago, University Libraries were getting rid of some old reference works. The encyclopedia set was one of them, and it had really lovely chromolithograph illustrations tipped in throughout. The black and white linework illustrations and maps were pretty spanky, too. Mr. Parker and I both desired the set, so we decided to purchase half of it apiece. Each of us went home with every other volume. 

Meanwhile last year I made a trip to Germany to speak in Stuttgart and hung out in a few antiquarian bookshops. In one a picked up a couple of old German type specimen books from the 20s and 30s. 

Sometimes I compose the weeks purely improvisationally. Other times I look at a typographic prompt or other source. The type books and reference illustration fragments have become elements of play. 

 

 

D.B. Dowd, 2015 Calendar Page (March 15-21). This started out as a riff on sponges (collaged in below) using a sloppy modular system to create the lettering, like a drunk LED sign. Then I realized I should probably integrate St. Patty's Day. 

Dowd, 2015 Calendar Page (February 1-7). The Fossils in the upper left are taken from a 1930s American dictionary. Across the fold from Forty-Niners

Dowd, 2015 Calendar Page (April 12-18). Like everybody else, I'm sick of snow and winter. Yellow started to seem like a really good idea. Columns-as-tree-trunks a spontaneous conceit. The lettering at the top reminds me of a Seymour Chwast typeface that I must have been channeling earlier today...

2015 Calendar Page (January 17-24). Still figuring out what to do with the collage element. (Not so good here.) Fraktur type drawn from Bernhard catalogue for Bauer type foundry. What was it with the Germans and Fraktur? Why did it last so long? Bernhard's Fraktur dates to the second decade of the century. 

2015 Calendar Page (January 25-31). I love the typeface of the upper case JAN: Bernhard's Kursiv Extrafette. The wacky crowns from the turn of the 20th century seem to suggest why World War I happened: that old Edwardian thing had to be killed off. Less seriously, I do like red, blue and tan/cream, as along he right edge. 

2015 Calendar Page (January 25-31), filled in and blurred at bit. As if the whole thing weren't geeky enough, many days are filled with detailed swimming yardage and workout times. 

2015 Calendar Page (January 8-14). Token collage fragment nonetheless inspired the whole image. Edible snail somehow gave way to snake, subsequently equipped with wheels or helium balloon tethers. 

2015 Calendar Page (February 22-28). A lineup of crystalline structures. Did one of these minerals steal your purse last night, ma'am? A little more intuitive and idiosyncratic response to the collage problem. An odd week, but fun to write in. (Which is, after all, the point.)