Cambridge Publishing Society

Brian Webb: Books With Stories

In our most recent endeavours, CAMPUS was fortunate enough to arrange a talk by a man who needs no introduction, but we’ll give him one anyway; Brian Webb. With a room packed with as much wine as there were people, we were all ready to be inspired by Brian and his intricate knowledge of illustration and publishing; and inspired we were. Brian reminds you of why you fell in love with books in the first place. The writing, designing, and history, but most importantly; the aroma of passion that comes from just looking at a well-produced book.

     There were students and admirers galore of publishing, graphic design, and illustration but as we found out, you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy “books with stories” – you just have to love them. Although we had only expected books with stories we were also treated to the story of the books and viewing examples of Brian’s work was utterly fantastic. His knowledge of the intellectual decades is admirable which, when combined with the exactness of the art form itself, is amazing. We were also given some industry knowledge as Brian spoke of brand identity, importance of print runs, the wood engravings to book cover process, issues of copyright in reproduction, and how sometimes a project can take over twenty years to come into fruition.

     Brian and his company Webb and Webb have a fantastic catalogue of work including products with just the author and title on the cover, calendar pop-ups, the 2012 stamps which featured work from various artists, Bond Bound designs, and of course the 10th anniversary adult versions of the Harry Potter series. Using graphic designs from Andrew Davidson for the latter, Webb and Webb created an aesthetically pleasing collection that captures a majestic maturity and beauty perhaps not before seen in the infamous book series. As for the collected works edition Brian had visualised something that had ‘arrived at Hogwarts through owl delivery service’ with claw marks but said he drew the line at putting owl dropping prints on! The most amazing thing is that Brian doesn’t use computers for his designs as they are all hand drawn which adds a traditional touch.

     Quirky, intelligent, brilliant, and with an uncanny knack to not drink free wine; Brian was everything you had hoped him to be. He always has the audience in mind, admitting that when researching you “become an expert for about a fortnight”, and helped us delve into the work of Enid Marx, Edward Bauden, Francis Bacon, and even his own daughter. As he puts it: ‘it’s not just called design – it is design’. There’s little money in it but there is dedication and passion and, as publishers and lovers of books, what more can we ask for?

     To immerse yourself in Brian’s work further please visit http://www.webbandwebb.co.uk/.


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