On Using Pictures Well (Lien Foundation 2020-2021)

The philanthropic Lien Foundation has published another excellent report. The Foundation’s work includes the care of elders, early childhood education and environmental sustainability in water and sanitation.

The report features a clever slipcase of printed plastic which, when aligned perfectly, displays the title as ‘The Age of Revolution’ but as it is being removed, it reveals the title to be ‘The Pages of Revolution’. A simple though effective design, declaring what the content of the book will be, as well as hinting at the graphic design choices to come.

For the most part, the report takes the form of a history book documenting revolutions throughout human history – in art, healthcare, technology and so on. It also makes a few thoughtful, humourous predictions about the future. Each section takes its cues from a variety of sources – the section on pandemics for instance, is designed like a visual encyclopaedia in the style of a Dorling Kindersley book, while sections on the future draw from Science Fiction literature and imagery.

As with their 2016/17 report, this edition is a masterclass in using illustrations as a main design element. A wide range of styles and approaches are featured. The book makes good use of archival material, from Renaissance paintings to protest posters. It also features newly commissioned work in the style of Manwha comics, American comics, isometric drawings, etchings, and CGI. As sections of the books are clearly marked, these varying styles never clash. Instead, each new section feels like engaging with a wholly new book. It sounds jarring but the effect is well-managed.

The report makes use of a muted metal grey special ink and copper foiling (mainly on the cover, end-papers and section titles) but these never overpower the reading experience. Type treatments likewise, are restrained and allow the illustrations to shine.

This report is clearly the product of many minds and much hard work. It is rare to find an annual report that bears re-reading and close study, but the Lien Foundation has managed it again.

Note: this is the second Lien Foundation report we’ve covered and both are worth studying. You can find our previous review here: https://www.crunite.net/achieving-greatness/


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