“Graphic design comes first at publishing houses”

Emilio Macchia and Erica Preli, graphic designers, founded the eee studio, located in Bologna and Ravenna: it deals with, among other things, artistic direction and graphic design for publishing houses. They have also designed a festival or art book fair, called Fahrenheit 39, in Ravenna since 2010. They themselves define their books as “unsaleable»: objects of research, sometimes very experimental.

The meeting was coordinated by Filippo dalla Villa, National Coordinating President of the CNA (National Confederation of Crafts and Small and Medium Enterprises, which also has a publishing section). The dialogue between the two graphic designers and the editor of Minimum fax, an independent publishing house in Rome founded in 1994, focused on the importance of the graphic element and the materiality of the book object for a publishing house. † As well as on the issue of the relationship between business and the cultural industry.

The experience of the object”always fundamental

In recent years, the editor’s work has been accompanied by certain changes, especially with regard to the visual experience of the text before it becomes a book. The editorial assistant of Minimum fax, Valeria Veneruso, who has been working since 2014, talks about the evolution of her work: ” In 2014 there were the trials and the cromalins. It was therefore possible to get a preview of the book before it was released in bookstores. Current printers handle PDF files andto spot typos, we scroll through the PDFHowever, it remains very important to be able to physically see the book before it is released in bookstores.

We can then ask ourselves to what extent the materials influence the success of an editorial product: Erica Preli confirms this for her”,the experience of the object, the fact of the object’s life and touching it is fundamentalIn her graphic design studio, she makes books that cannot be found in bookstores, art and festival catalogs, short run photography books.

In the choice of materials and printing techniques, we transfer the contents of the books ourselvesconfirms his colleague. On the other hand, says Valeria Veneruso, Minimum fax has external graphic designers who design the collections and the covers.

Not always easy projects

The other reality is that the projects suffer from a lack of money. Or because, when it comes to texts, the relationship with the authors is difficult. Publishers often have to bring authors back to the fold, but according to Valeria Veneruso they should above all “lsupport you“Although, she recalls with irony and a touch of cynicism,”the best author is the one who is dead“. Working on public domain text has many benefits. And to add to that”books make us dream, but they remain products» and that this mediation game between editor and author proves to be very difficult.

The discourse then moves to the heart of the book: the cage (template), its graphic design. †The font adds so much to the personality of the productsays Erica Preli. She thus recalls the magazines she produced by thinking a lot about the police and sometimes creating new and very special objects. Some with false covers, in some cases almost no cover – the introduction was printed directly on it.

At Minimum Fax, where traditional text editing doesn’t play much with formats, we focus instead on calibration to give the impression that a text is shorter. Indeed, the publisher acknowledges avoiding too long books that scare the reader. But to entice it, the cover is absolutely essential: it comes before the text.

For example, in 2017, the graphics of Minimum fax changed: it was very difficult to find the right direction then, as the visual was the first promoter of the work, Valeria Veneruso emphasizes.

According to Emilio Macchia, “the cover is the last thing we do while making a book», it’s the dress of the book. Clients often ask about the cover, in fact, which for this studio is a research space to express the content. †The cover is a kinetic object, just like the book» he notes, «she is moving

Business and publishing: a link to forge?

Finally, the main topic of the relationship between industry and publishing is discussed. Can the publishing world meet the business world? How do you create synergies with business and how do you create a corporate culture? Filippo wants the edition to deliver something that is a “narration of the mental evolution of the entrepreneur

Valeria Veneruso believes that the meeting between publishing and business is a trend for the future and recalls an earlier collaborative project with Poste Italiane, which, in order to give culture to its employees, had chosen to donate a collection of short stories which was published by Minimum fax calledGiovani Leonic

There was a time when industry and literature, publishers and companies communicated much more than they do now. At the time of the so-called industrial style, a style of Italian design that was very popular abroad. †We fight against the idea that this is no longer possiblesays Erica Preli, not without daring. Although some obstacles and ideas have to be overcome, the quality of graphic design is sometimes underestimated and it is always assumed that readers and consumers cannot understand the most innovative projects.

According to her, “now it’s time to take risks, get out of the cages, collaborate with industriesAnd to summarize:The people who have the ideas must stop thinking that the reader will not understand.

photo credits: Federica Malinversno / ActuaLitté, CC BY SA 2.0 – From left to right: Erica Preli, Emilio Macchia, Filippo dalla Villa and Valeria Veneruso

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