Rodrigo Corral called a few weeks ago just after I had hurled into an empty butter container. It was a breath of fresh air between food poisoning and appendicitis (which lasted a week before I said fuckit and drove myself to the emergency room). Anyhoo, Rodrigo need a logo design (a refresh, 75th anniversary) for New Directions Publishing. I had heard of this publishing house but on doing research I began hurling again.
New Directions was founded in 1936, when James Laughlin (1914 - 1997), then a twenty-two-year-old Harvard sophomore, issued the first of the New Directions anthologies. "I asked Ezra Pound for 'career advice,'" James Laughlin recalled. "He had been seeing my poems for months and had ruled them hopeless. He urged me to finish Harvard and then do 'something' useful." Intended "as a place where experimentalists could test their inventions by publication," the ND anthologies first introduced readers to the early work of such writers as William Saroyan, Louis Zukofsky, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, Kay Boyle, Delmore Schwartz, Dylan Thomas, Thomas Merton, John Hawkes, Denise Levertov, James Agee, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Soon after issuing the first of the anthologies, New Directions began publishing novels, plays, and collections of poems. Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, who once had difficulty finding publishers, were early New Directions authors and have remained at the core of ND's backlist of modernist writers. And Tennessee Williams first appeared as a poet in the early Five Young American Poets.
The handsome color jackets featuring abstract designs for which New Directions was known in the 1950s were the work of designer Alvin Lustig. In order to give ND books a distinctive look in the early days of the paperback, Lustig suggested switching to black-and-white covers exclusively, which for many years was a house trademark. The colophon of the centaur was designed from a statue by Heinz Henghes sculpted in the 1930s.
The colophon (logo) was designed by Heinz Henghes, an old roomate of Ezra Pound who escaped to America at age 17. I didn't understand the logo's meaning in regards to new directions. Nonetheless, its has been around for 75 years unchanged. As I went about researching Henghes work I discovered quite an artist. This is his self portrait.
His sculptures spoke to me. How was I going to channel this cat?
perhaps I could do my linear thing and say it was inspired by some of his sketches.
Here is another one of his sketches/ drawings. I don't know about you but I immediately thought of fellow drawger Doug Fraser.
THis is Henghes in his studio with a sketch of the sculpture that would become the logo for New Directions. Looks at those sculptures. Thats Fraser all the way. I actually told Rodrigo to call Doug and was thinking he surely would while I waited it out in the hospital for 4 days.
These were my first thoughts before I went into hiatus (hospital). Looking at them now I want to get sick again. They're that terrible. I'll show them small so you don't spew.
Its shocking Rodrigo didn't fire me right here. Actually I don't think I ever sent these (Or did I? I was hallucinating pretty badly after 7 days with no food. I probably did all kinds of things)
Once I got back I jumped on it and drew up this sequence and tried to make sense of things. Believe it or not it worked. We sold the damn thing. Happy 75th Anniversary New Directions.
I wanted to toss up a Google snatch of Rodrigo's work. Its really inspiring to see his covers and ideas develop over the years. He has his shit goin' on, brosephine.
Frey's "Million little pieces" (another excellent design) was shot by my old pal from Dallas, Fredrik Broden- a great artist/ photographer. You can spot one of Yuko's covers in there too. The "No longer Human" cover appears to be inspired by Juan Arp. And last but not least there you see Debbie Millman's "Look both ways" cover.
If anyone has ever had a burst appendix and lived to tell the tale this would be a good place to share your story. For me, I thought it was just food poisoning. Apparently the appendix is a storage house for the "good" bacteria and should you get a wicked case of food poisoning the toxins may override whatever natural defense system you have.