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Octavo | International Journal of Typography


International Journal of Typography
Editors Michael Burke, Mark Holt, Simon Johnston, Hamish Muir

Octavo was designed and published by 8vo as an eight issue series between 1986 and 1992. The first seven print-based issues were all to the same format of A4, 16pp, + cover and 8pp tracing paper jacket, typeset in Haas Unica (Scangraphic). The eighth issue was published as an ‘interactive’ CD-ROM.

The seven printed issues were produced before 8vo started working with desktop computers. Early issues were pasted up as conventional artwork (Cow Gum on art board using drawing boards, set squares, scalpels, Rotring Pens etc). From issue 4, in-position typesetting and later complete page make-up film output replaced mechanical artwork.

Each issue was designed at full-size. This was a laborious process; most elements were made by hand (acetate, paint, ink, Pantone paper, Letrafilm, crayon, etc) or produced using a photocopier and a PMT camera. The aim was to get close to the final printed object leaving as little as possible to chance. The finished mock-ups served both as reference for typesetting and artwork, and as guides for the repro house and the printer.

With no ‘undo’ function, the process of resolving layout and design issues was very different to that of today; it required courage as it wasn’t easy to go back (sometimes the only ‘undo’ would be the waste of several hours work); additive and subtractive collage – mostly in one direction – with the decision making process often leaving traces in the final visual.

For more on the process behind Octavo and other major projects by 8vo, see ‘8vo: On the Outside’, Mark Holt and Hamish Muir, Lars Müller Publishers, 2005, ISBN 3-03778-019-3

Special Thanks to Hamish Muir for sharing these fantastic exclusive images from the ‘Octavo’ archive and providing the accompanying text.

If you follow Hamish on twitter or attended the recent typocircle talk you will have seen some of these inspiring and beautifully ‘crafted’ covers – I really wanted to share these at the large ‘typetoken’ 756px size


‘8vo: On the Outside’


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