I got an A+ in Art and You can too and A Report/Un Rapport
By Katie Edwards
“Intueri sonitum, imaginem auscultare.”
With a Latin motto that roughly translates as “looking at sound, listening to an image,” Toronto-based press Standard Form produces a unique combination of art and music. Inspired by publishers like Coach House Books, who do their printing in-house, proprietor Alex Durlak founded the company almost a year and a half ago, motivated by a self-proclaimed “love to make stuff.” With a long-standing interest in design and photography, lots of time spent playing in bands, and a DIY work-ethic, Durlak began to learn the art of offset lithography two years ago. This has translated into a catalogue of two albums and three books, all published within the last six months. Though the albums were released before the books, Durlak says that he always intended to publish both books and music, and is interested in the overlap between the art and music scenes.
The press’ books are striking in their design, which is likely a result of Durlak’s fascination with graphic arts and typography. His introduction to Constructivist books published in Russia had a major impact: “I was impressed by the power simple type and vibrant graphical layouts can have as both a means of communication and as artistic expression,” Durlak says. “They seemed to have the perfect balance.”
As the press prepares to expand and move into its own shop in Toronto’s west-end, Durlak has lots to be excited about. With upcoming albums by Feuermusik and Greater Explosives, and books by Seripop and Chad VanGaalen, Standard Press will continue to create an interesting mix of sound and image.
I got an A+ in Art and You can too.
By Tonik Wojtyra
Tonik Wojtyra’s cheeky handbook, I got an A+ in Art and You can too., reveals the secret of how to navigate the sometimes conflicted world of art and higher education. Beginning by answering the questions “What is higher learning?” and “What is art?”, Wojtyra offers advice on everything from how to survive a critique of your work to how to get that A+. He distinguishes good art from good grades; if students want the latter, they are advised to “Give them what they want.” If your teacher likes more traditional painting, don’t hand in an avant-garde piece. It’s that simple.
Wojtyra designed the book’s striking layout himself and, according to Standard Form’s Alex Durlak, had a clear idea of what the finished product would look like from the start. The text is punctuated with a rich yellow type treatment that is carried throughout the book. Photos and sketches add visual interest to the text, making the book an art project in and of itself.
A Report/Un Rapport
By Alex Durlak
Alex Durlak’s A Report/Un Rapport takes the text of a 1978 report written by the Advisory Arts Panel to the Canada Council and presents it in a graphically interesting form. The 7 x 7-inch book takes the text of the report and lays out no more than a few sentences per page. Colour and typography are used to emphasize the meanings of the words they represent, and reflect Durlak’s interest in graphic design as a means of both communication and artistic expression. For example, the word “self-destruction” appears in a jumble on one page, and the phrase “American giant” fills a page about the pressures facing Canadian culture and heritage. The book has two front covers, and depending on which one is opened the reader will encounter the report’s text in either French or English. The layout and design of the two versions mirror each other, and the same colours and graphics are used in both. Simple yet striking, A Report/Un Rapport reinvents a thirty-year-old text, and challenges ideas about Canadian art and culture.
Standard Form books are available at: Art Metropole; Pages, Swipe; This Ain’t the Rosedale Library; David Mirvish Books; Printed Matter (New York City); Barbara Wien (Berlin); and by mail order from standardform.org.