The Biblio File Hosted by Nigel Beale
Twenty - forty minute interviews with accomplished authors, publishers, biblio people, conducted by an excitable bibliophile.

The Press & Letterfoundry of Michael & Winifred Bixler is "devoted to the craft of fine letterpress printing and traditional book typography. Our extensive collection of English Monotype matrices allows us to cast from 8- to 72-point, classic book typefaces including Bembo, Dante, Walbaum, Van Dijck, Joanna, Perpetua, Garamond, Centaur & Arrighi, Ehrhardt, Fournier, Bell, Baskerville, Poliphilus, Plantin, Gill Sans, & Univers. Work is designed, set, printed, & bound in our shop. We use Vandercook & Heidelberg cylinder presses. Fonts are cast on commission & sold by the pound."

I met with Michael and Winifred recently at their shop in Skaneateles, NY to discuss letterpress printing, and all things Monotype. 

Direct download: Bixler_Final_Part_1.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 3:27pm EDT

From 1959-1964,  McClelland and Stewart published a run of poetry books written by Irving Layton, designed by Frank Newfeld, edited by Claire Pratt, and often illustrated with photographs by Sam Tata. They turned out to be among Layton’s most famous and influential titles ( A Red Carpet for the Sun [1959], The Swinging Flesh [1961], Balls for a One-Armed Juggler [1963], and The Laughing Rooster [1964]).  

Cameron Anstee, proprietor of Apt 9 Press and a PhD student in the English Department at the University of Ottawa recently delivered a paper at the 2013 Canadian Literature Symposium. It examined the relationship between Layton,  Newfeld, and Jack McClelland  and positioned it as central to the formation both of a visible canon of Canadian Literature in the 1950s and 1960s, and of Layton’s particular public image. The paper  looked at  Layton’s complicated relationship  with the Canadian reading public and emerging Canadian literary establishments through a close reading  of the book objects. It also considered how Layton was ‘branded’ , the role that Frank Newfeld played in this, and  the poet's conflicted responses to Newfeld’s designs.

I met recently with Anstee  to discuss this fascinating topic. 

Direct download: Cameron_Anstee.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 12:44pm EDT

Abigail Rorer is a wood engraver, and proprietor of The Lone Oak Press which publishes limited edition, fine press books using...letterpress & wood engraving. Please listen here to our conversation on the why and how of what she loves to do.

Direct download: Abigail_Rorer_130630_001.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 7:26am EDT

Richard Minsky twirling The Philosophy of Umbrellas by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Richard Minsky is a celebrated American book artist,  bookbinder and scholar who at age 13 got his first printing press. In 1968, he graduated cum laude in economics from Brooklyn College, was then awarded a fellowship at Brown University, got his Master's degree in economics, and then pursued a Ph.D. at The New School for Social Research;  two years later he chucked it all for bookbinding, art and music. He studied bookbinding under master bookbinder Daniel Gibson Knowlton

 In 1974, Minsky founded the Center for Book Arts in New York, an organization dedicated to interpreting the book as an art object using traditional book arts practices. I met recently with Richard and his graphic novelist partner Barbara Slate at their house in the Hudson Valley for libation and conversation. My objective was to pry artists books apart from these traditional book arts moorings. Listen to how successful I was here:

Direct download: Richard_Minsky_130518_001.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 11:10am EDT

Emilio Gil is a graphic designer and founder of Tau Design a firm that pioneered design services, institutional communications, and the creation and development of visual corporate identity programmes in Spain.  He trained at the SVA (School of Visual Arts) in New York under professors Milton Glaser, James McMullan and Ed Benguiat, and studied curating at Central St. Martins in London.

For his 1995 book ‘Un toro negro y enorme’ (An enormous black bull) Gil won the Laus de Oro award for Editorial Design, the Donside award, and the Certificate of Excellence from the Type Directors Club of New York.

He teaches in the Santillana Training Publishing Master’s program and is a professor at the University of Salamanca, the University Carlos III and at the University Europea, all in Madrid. In addition to having curated several important exhibitions on the history of graphic design in Spain, he is author of  Pioneers of Graphic Design in Spain (Index Book, 2007. Edition in the USA, Mark Batty Publisher), and co-author of  The Beauty of Things (Gustavo Gili, 2007). He has been president since June 2009 of AEPD (Spanish Association of Design Professionals).

I met with Emilio in his offices in Madrid several months ago to discuss some of the great Spanish modern book designers, including Manolo Prieto and Daniel Gil.

Direct download: Emilio_gil_Final_ZOOM0004.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 6:05pm EDT


Laurie Lewis began her publishing career in New York City with Doubleday in the early 60s, acting as liaison between the book design  and printing departments. In 1963 she moved to Toronto and joined the University of Toronto Press. When Allan Fleming came on board as Chief Designer in 1968 the new Design Unit was formed and Lewis became Fleming’s assistant. The department produced many important books, winning numerous awards both nationally and internationally.

For her outstanding service over they years to the design community, Lewis was made a Fellow of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada in 1975, proposed by Allan Fleming and Leslie Smart. She was vice-president of the Ontario Chapter from 1975 to 1977 and continued to support and contribute to the organization for many subsequent years and encouraged graphic design internationally through workshops in publication design in the third world, particularly in South East Asia and in South America, through volunteer assignments with the Canadian International Development Agency

Lewis  introduced computers to the design office at University of Toronto in 1984, with the original Macintosh 512K. In 1991 she took early retirement in order to pursue interests in writing and small publishing. She is the founder and director of The Artful Codger Press, established to encourage the publication of memoirs and life writings.

After retirement from her international volunteer work Laurie began what she calls "another life." She became editor of Vista, the publication of the Seniors Association in Kingston, and began a new career as a writer. In 2011, at the age of 80, her first memoir, Little Comrades, was published by Porcupine’s Quill, and was selected by The Globe and Mail as one of the Top 100 Books of the Year 2011. As of this writing, her next book, Love, and all that jazz is scheduled for publication in 2013.

I caught up with Laurie Lewis recently at her home in Kingston, Ontario where we talked about her impressive career, her colleagues, and some of the more collectible books that she has had a hand in designing. Please listen here.

Direct download: Laurie_Lewis_120930_001.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 5:18pm EDT

Randall Speller was for 29 years a librarian in the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Combining his career in art librarianship with an interest in Canadian literature and book collecting, he has done extensive research into the history of Canadian book illustration and design, especially in the years following World War II. Randall is a contributing editor to the DA: a Journal of the Printing Arts, where he has written several influential articles on book illustration and design.

Randall is also an accomplished painter. His work focuses largely on Victoria County, part of his longstanding interest in representing an area of Ontario that his family has had connections to since the 1840s. As his website puts it: "Capturing the essential qualities of this landscape has engaged him for more than 30 years. His subjects are the constructed elements of landscape and buildings that are shaped by people, by weather, by light and by time."

Please listen here as we engage in a conversation about the history of Canadian book design, and the importance of book collecting to Canadian, and indeed all cultures.

Direct download: Randall_Speller120718_003_22hz.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 5:03pm EDT

Michele Rackham is a post doctoral fellow at Trent University. She is currently working on a digital catalogue raisonne of P.K. Irwin's (a.k.a P.K. Page) artwork that will  accompany a print art book to be published by the Porcupine's Quill. Rackham recently completed a PhD at McGill University. The title of her thesis is Between the Lines, Interartistic Modernism in Canada 1930-1960.

We met recently to talk about 20th Canadian book design, and the important work that artist Betty Sutherland did for the Contact Press designing book covers during the 1950s.

Direct download: Michele_Rackham_CompleteZOOM0007_2.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 10:08am EDT

What William Toye apparently wanted most in the world after graduating from the University of Toronto in 1948,  was a job in Canadian book publishing. This, Robert Fulford tells us in a recent National Post profile, was an outlandish career move since Canadian publishing barely existed. We had few publishers and they produced few books. They did little more than import American and British books, selling Bibles, dictionaries and schoolbooks to keep themselves afloat. But Toye was insistent. Says Fulford: 

"When he applied for a job at the Canadian branch of Oxford University Press, he was told they had nothing for him but a place in the warehouse. He said that would be fine. Over the next six decades Canadian publishing steadily expanded and Toye found many ways to deploy the talents he developed. At age 84, still editing, he recently produced yet another in the long list of valuable books he’s given us, The Concise Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature, Second Edition."

Quite apart from the outstanding work he has produced as editor, the multi-talented Toye has also written and designed some beautiful, memorable books of his own, and it is these we met to talk about last month.  Please listen here:

Direct download: Bill_Toye.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 8:35pm EDT

Allan Fleming was born in Toronto in 1929. At 16 he left studies at the Western Technical School to apprentice at various design firms in Toronto. He then went to England, where he soaked up lessons from some of the great British book designers. Back in Canada in 1957 he joined the typographic firm Cooper and Beatty Ltd., and was working there when the opportunity to redesign Canadian National's logo came up in 1959.  In 1962 he became art director at Maclean’s magazine. He was vice-president and director of creative services at MacLaren Advertising from 1963 to 1968, and chief designer at the University of Toronto Press until 1976,  when he joined Burns and Cooper.

Suave, handsome, well-read, eloquent and confident, Fleming epitomised 'cool.' His design work won many awards in Canada, the United States and around the world. Though best remembered as the creator of CN’s corporate logo, Fleming was also a superb book designer, and this is what I talked about recently with Canadian literary journalist Robert Fulford who knew and was influenced by Fleming. Please listen here:

Direct download: Robert_Fulford_Allan_Fleming.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 1:06pm EDT