The Barnbrook Bible - Jonathan Barnbrook

The name really sums up the nature of this volume. It's chunky, and it covers an awful lot of Jonathan Barnbrook's output. To me, his best output is his fonts - Bastard, Exocet, Manson, Priori and the others, but that's just part of his work. His graphic design reacts to modern consumerism, and has an element of layered confusion, but in a way that contrasts very strongly with, say, The Designers Republic. Where TDR go for irony, Barnbrook goes for anger (and humour).

Barnbrook is a graphic designer with principles. He treats graphic design as a responsibility, in that it can be used to advertise good or bad causes, and he does not believe the graphic designer should be a transparent channel, but should choose what they work on. He's worked on projects with Damien Hirst, and has seen first-hand what 'artists' can get away with, which 'graphic designers' cannot. So, while there is plenty of graphic design content in the book, there's a strong theme of his views, too. It's a bit like Mark Thomas's comedy - the start of the book focuses on his early career, design work etc., but by the end of the book it has segued into a strong political message.

For someone who, in some ways, has a job of making visual candy, a simple wrapper for a message, Jonathan Barnbrook is really rather thoughtful. So, while it's a great book of graphic design, the volume is really lifted up by the notes, giving his motivation behind everything from the details of his fonts to his whole way of working.

Posted 2009-08-17.