Reprinting Alfons Mucha
When I was a student of graphic design several years ago, one of the artists whose work made a significant impact on my ideas as a designer was Alfons-Marie Mucha (1860-1939), the Czech-born master of the art nouveau style. This was a guy who could seemingly design a wall mural as easily as he could illustrate a cigarette ad.
And for a student who was interested in graffiti art murals as much as typography and page layout, Mucha seemed to me like the designer's designer.
It isn't obvious in any way, but some of what I learned from studying Mucha all those years ago shows up in my work even today. In fact, the sticker art gallery in KFG!3 is a nod to an infamous design portfolio that Mucha produced in 1902 called the "Art Nouveu Style Book."
Two or so year ago, while combing through archives of out of print books, I came across a digitized copy of a rare booklet produced in 1921 called "The Historical Paintings of the Slavic Nations." It was made in conjunction with an exhibition of Mucha's paintings under that same title which were shown that year at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brooklyn Museum.
According to the book's indicia, only five-thousand copies were printed. Heaven only knows how many copies have survived to the present day, but if I had to guess, I would say only a few. As far as I can tell, the book has never been reprinted.
Well, that is until now.
Factoring in my deep appreciation of Mucha's work, the small production size, and also its connection to the Art Institute of Chicago (a place I came to know intimately even before deciding to major in graphic design) a reprint of this booklet seemed like a perfect fit for my one-man production house.
And so, having found myself between projects, I started work on a reprint version of the book last night. Before crashing out a little after 5AM, the first the first half of the book was done. The other half will get tackled later tonight.
Some necessary design alterations had to be made for the cover, which featured only an illustration by Mucha, and was printed on brown card stock (below). Some of the beautiful art nouveau text from page five of the book was altered and formatted to provide a fitting new cover (top).
In addition to Count Dante's "World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets," which I reprinted in 2007, Mucha's "Historical Paintings of the Slavic Nations" is another book that I felt compelled to resurrect from obscurity. And like the former, it's something that I'm proud to see in an expanding list of KFG/Paper Dragon Press publications.