inspired by Martina Bisaz
A photo book with a difference: Five tips for designing an art book
Until now, I have only ever filled and designed my photo books with travel memories. Being a travel photographer, this always seemed like the most fitting choice. But photo books can be so much more than this. I was inspired to develop this idea further by a friend of mine, who works as a fashion designer and art photographer in Iran. Since she recently opened her own concept store, I wanted to design a book for her that showcased her collections from the past few years to provide her creations with a suitable stage. Together with artistic photos of her collections, it will be a mixture of portfolio and art book.
The basis for a fashion or art portfolio is, of course, an archive of high-quality photos. As always, the hardest part is editing and sorting the photos. This time too, I chose a 28x28cm premium photo paper photo book with a matt cover and matt photo paper from ifolor. I have always used this format for all my photo books because I really like the style and the real photo paper pages. This allows me to ensure a consistent style across all my photo books.
My five tips for designing an art book:
Decide how you want to put the book together. What is the story you want to convey? Should the photos, projects, or collections follow one another chronologically, thematically, or by colour? Or maybe it doesn’t matter to you? I thought about how to do it for a long time. Should I arrange the collections chronologically or by colour (in my case starting from very dark and getting lighter)...? In the end, I decided on something else entirely because it was important to me that the first collection in the book is the one that really captivates you. It was therefore my personal favourite that determined the structure. After that, I arranged the collections so that they were balanced. Some collections are larger, and some consist of only a few photos. That’s why I decided to mix these up. Sometimes I took a larger one, sometimes a smaller one, then a larger collection once again, to create a balance.
2. Short introduction/biography
At the beginning of the book, I wanted to include a few sentences about the artist/designer to introduce her. I decided to write everything in Persian, her mother tongue, as well as in English. Including a photo of her was also important to me since a face can say a lot about the work. If there are a fair few chapters, a table of contents may also prove very helpful. I didn’t find this to be necessary for my book, however.
3. Less is more
An art book/portfolio should not be about quantity, but about showing the best of your work. The hard part is choosing the best photos and deciding what to include and what to leave out. The concept of ‘less is more’ also applies to the layout of the book. Leave some space between the images. Maybe even leave a page blank. Just one image per page can be enough; this allows the art to speak for itself. Of course, you can also show several photos per page now and again, but this shouldn’t happen too often. Make the most of the special binding that ensures the opened pages of the book always lie flat and place a photo across two pages. Since the pages always lie flat, it doesn’t matter if the middle of the book goes straight through a person’s face either.
4. Project description
Depending on the projects, they may need an explanation or a few words along with the date of their creation. I asked my friend if she could write a few sentences about each collection, what was going through her mind at the time, and what made her design the collection in this way. Of course, I wanted the text in both Persian and English. Her thoughts and words are very poetic, and the Persian script is the perfect fit for her poetry. I committed a full page to each of the texts. Even when it was just a few lines. This ensures the texts are given the consideration that they deserve.
You can also verbalise visions, future plans, intentions or other important thoughts about your fashion label or your art. What is important to you when you produce fashion or art? What materials do you use and why? These two questions would fit well at the beginning, perhaps after the designer’s biography, so that the reader is generally better informed about the upcoming projects/photos right from the start. Future plans and visions would make more sense at the end. As a nice conclusion that might make people look forward to a possible Volume II?
I really like the finished book! I particularly like the parts where beautiful portraits have been placed over two flat-lying pages. I can hardly wait to give it to my friend Farzaneh. She will display it in her concept store for her customers to look at. A nice way to inspire customers and spark interest.
All the pictures in this feature were taken by Martina Bisaz and are subject to copyright.
There is hardly any other Swiss person who has as many Instagram followers as her. Martina Bisaz, born in Grisons, impresses more than 235,000 followers with her landscape photos on the Instagram photo platform as kitkat_ch. The 36-year-old travels across Switzerland and all over the world in her vintage Fiat 500 and an orange VW camper van. And as with Heidi, it can also be said of Martina that the mountains are her world. Photos of impressive snow-capped mountains, turquoise blue alpine lakes and misty mountain ranges are her trademark. Martina Bisaz quit her job as a scientific illustrator in 2017 and has been working as a freelance photographer and dedicating herself to her Instagram account since then. Martina writes a blog about the world of photography and photo products for the inspire photo blog from ifolor every month.