More than just fresh branding & art direction, FG Press focused on a radically-new business model to design a publishing company for the modern era.
NO 1 Overview
FG Press is a new publishing company with the DNA of a startup. Originally formed out of Foundry Group in Boulder, it looks to bring modern technology and insights to a very traditional industry. Since its creation in the Fall of 2013, the company has published fiction and nonfiction books, in digital and in print, with nationally-recognized authors. I was lucky enough to be introduced to the FG Press team when the company was forming and was able to have an impact on every visual aspect of the company.
NO 2 The Process
The first iteration of the logo for FG Press was influenced by looking at publishing companies from the late 18th century. Because the company was so young, I wanted the logo to feel a bit more established within the traditional world of publishing. The first iteration of the logo was a type-only treatment featuring a customized Hoefler Text. After experimenting with the logo in some printed and digital mockups, it did not properly scale or fully represent the more modern aspects of the company.
After the first experiments, I focused my attention on a recognizable mark that would work on the web, on the spine of a book, and riff on historic publishing houses. More than just a shield for the publishing house, small details on the logomark also transformed it into an open book.
The final lockup of the logo featured Gotham as the typeface paired with the shield. Gotham was chosen for its legibility at small sizes and personality at large sizes—the face looked early 20th-century but was right at home for modern publishing efforts.
Grid System for Book Covers
One of the most unique aspects of this project was creating a grid system and base template for all of the books that FG Press was going to publish. This system, based thematically off of the Penguin Books covers from the late 60s and early 70s, made a consistent look while allowing for variability and personality in the different categories. Instead of designing the content for a grid, a few book covers were mocked up and a golden-ratio grid was created that would work while taking into account the considerations of varying content length and design elements.
This was also one of the most enjoyable parts of the project because of the researching into publishing history and pairing that with both modern sensibilities and technologies—along with printed books, FG Press was to publish on tablets and e-readers.
The grid system finished with one single grid to work across every category of book and every medium of publishing—it would both represent the company as a whole and allow for the individuality of the author to shine through. When presenting the system to FG Press, I printed a hardcover book using all of the theories and rules that I had set up for the company in the first place. It was, in some ways, the first FG Press book.
Responsive Site Design
The goals of the FG Press site were very unique and posed an interesting set of challenges that differed from most startups. Instead of gaining notoriety for FG Press, or even trying to sell books from the site, the primary goal of the site was to show authors how much FG Press both cared for their interests and would work to promote them around the web. Of course, selling books and growing the company were great secondary goals, but it was great to put the mantra of the company into the site design: putting authors first.
After the goals and principles of the site were established, we wanted the aesthetics to bring a premium quality to the brand while making it highly accessible. The focus of the site would be the same focus of the books—beautiful type design, simple but effective layouts, accessible on every conceivable device, and easy to digest and understand. While the feel of the site is wholly digital, the aesthetics were informed by centuries of print design and established typographic rules.
We settled on a combination of typefaces from Hoefler Co. for the site, including Tungsten for titles, Gotham for small headlines, and Mercury as the work-horse of the site and body copy.
Along with focusing on an effective design, FG Press also hired a photographer to give the site more personality than could be offered through stock photographs alone. We worked with Boulder-based Stephen Collector and did a two-day shoot to get home and office shots for FG Press lifestyle photos.
NO 3 The Impact
Because the project started so early in the lifecycle of the company, I was fortunate enough to have a hand in almost every visual aspect of the company including logo and identity, responsive-site design, directing a photo shoot, and creating a grid system for all of their books. I worked with the team’s engineers to bring the site to life and was incredibly excited to see the launch.
Before the end of 2014, FG Press will launch their ninth book under the brand along with bringing on a number of nationally-known authors of fiction, business, and startup accelerators. The work I did has continued to grow and evolve since I first started working with the team but retains all of the original values and motivations. Books have been typeset, printed, and published with identity work that I established before being downloaded or shipped around the world to readers who are directly supporting the authors they care about.
FG Press has some amazing things planned in the coming years, and I am so excited that I was lucky enough to get to work with Dane McDonald and Eugene Wan from the beginning. I hope that the foundations that I’ve helped create continue to be used and improved upon as new books, new products, and more readers are brought together to put authors first.
If you enjoyed this project and would like to work together, get in touch.