Meet the Wight Book Designer

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An interview with Brian Marriott, founder of Marriott Design and celebrating 50 years experience in the design industry this year. Brian talks about being lead designer for the Wight Book and what lies beneath the surface of producing a beautiful book.

“When Chris Scott asked me if I would like to design a coffee table book portraying everything that is ‘great about the Island’, it immediately appealed to me as a exciting project. I knew instinctively this book was a project I could immediately visualise, but that was before I had even started planning the content!. My preliminary sketches evolved into 22 sections, which would cover most aspects of Island life. It was at that point I realised I had created a monster project!

My design concept was to involve 22 foreword writers, all experienced people with extensive knowledge of their subject. After Chris and I had identified these writers and obtained their willingness to join us on this journey, we knew we needed further professional support. Ben Wood was ‘seduced’ into joining us to work with 10 established commercial Island photographers. As we were starting with no budget or even funds for new photography, the concept was to obtain agreements from those photographers to access their archives and select images that fulfilled the 22 sections. A massive undertaking which led to over 5000 images from which we used 540.

The County Press, VisitIW, Style of Wight and a few other agencies also agreed to allow access to their libraries, but it was going to be a logistical challenge.

Simon Pearce, the designer at Crossprint’s studio was tasked with working with me to interpret my design brief and complete the 252 page artwork challenge, a huge undertaking in itself!

Another designer, equally competent and professional was James Lord, who succumbed to the excitement of the project, joined us to provide a graphic design support role.

It was then at the point of spreading out our page proofs we needed a ‘war-room’, somewhere I could stand and stare at all 252 pages. Chris Scott found us an empty office in Langley Court, Newport, perfect for design meetings and scrutinising my layouts. My thanks also to my old friend Jeremy Gee, a hardened marketing man who kept popping in and just kept saying edit, edit, cut, cut, less is more and big is better!

The Wight Book was never intended to replace, be better than or compete with, all the many other excellent books about the Isle of Wight. It was designed to be a contemporary overview, a book one could browse over and immediately feel impressed with the depth of what this little island has achieved. Ben Wood introduced us to Anmarie Bowler, a ‘wordsmith’ and recent convert to Island life who writes in a refreshing way and tackled the annotations needed in different sections of the book. I think you will find her copywriting takes a different approach, sometimes amusing angle on established facts!.

Half way through the project I started to feel as though I was drowning in ideas and options and needed a ‘mentor’, someone who was detached from the day to day conflicts of content and project management, to stand back and ensure there was creative consistency in the overall presentation. Barnaby Edwards, a creative consultant kept us on an even keel and was always available when ‘design matters’ needed solutions….thank you Barnes.

2 years on…we enjoyed the journey, it has been a hugely satisfying design project and I can only thank my design team colleagues for their involvement and the photographic contributors, who without them this book would not have been possible”.

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