The Great Gatsby

2012 • Book design, Typography, Craft

Three limited handmade editions of the novel Great Gatsby. It won 2nd place in the Publishing Professional's Network Student Scholarship competition. Every part of the book was handmade by me, I formatted all the text and front matter, folded and stitched every page, made the cover and bound the book. The outer cover was a separate project and is 8 individually cut pieces of green and blue paper layered to look like light beams. The rest of the cover was printed and I hand cut around the title then pieced everything together. More details below.



The Great Gatsby is a classic piece of literature which focuses on the theme of wealth and the American lifestyle of the 1920’s. I have included many attributes in my limited edition copy to reflect the theme and style of the time period. Also, many special features have been included to make the edition truly a one of a kind collector’s edition. All of the attributes were handmade by me, as well as the binding and construction of the book.


The target audience for this limited edition of The Great Gatsby is those interested in the American lifestyle of the 1920’s as well as fans of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work. Also, adult readers looking for a more long-lasting collectible edition of the book are part of the audience.


One edition is covered in a teal book cloth and the other in green, both are furnished with black and gold headbands. Both blue and green are important colors throughout the story. The teal cover has been hand cut with the half- title and backed with a liquid gold leaf painted sheet that is applied to the book board. The green cover has the title hand painted in liquid gold leaf. The front cover simply bears the name Gatsby, since the novel is so well known now that this is all that’s needed to identify the title. The size and placement matches the half title page inside the book. The cover was applied to book board with book paste and stretched for a smooth finish.


The pages have all been laid out using the Van de Graaf Canon and Tschichold’s recommended 2:3 page-size ratio. The canon is used to create harmony on the page with the size of the margins. The body text is set in Adobe Garamond Pro. Adobe Garamond is a digital interpretation of the roman types of Claude Garamond and the italic types of Robert Granjon. Adobe type designer Robert Slimbach has captured the beauty and balance of the original Garamond typefaces. He has created a typeface that offers all the advantages of a contemporary type family. The type- face, was chosen for the titles to fit with the 1920’s style but also to bring a more modern feel to the novel. This script was designed by Alejandro Paul as part of the Charles Bluemlein Script Collection, which is a reminder of the heady days of hand lettering and calligraphy in the United States. The typeface for the chapter openings is Champagne and Limousines, designed by Lauren Thompson. This font has a classic 1920’s deco style and is a nice clean contrast to the Adobe Garamond Pro used in the body text. The folios are set in Lavanderia. This typeface was designed by James T. Edmondson and is based on lettering found on Laundromat windows of San Francisco’s Mission District.


The endsheets for this edition are a vintage map of Long Island reprinted on watercolor paper, for its weight and tex- ture. These maps were found on Flickr and the owner of the images allowed me to use them for this project. Originally, the map con- tained many titles of roads and places. But, I removed most of the text from Long Island in Adobe Photoshop to make the image less crowded. Also, I added in the titles for East Egg and West Egg so the reader can easily see how the maps tie into the story. This map also includes the location of New York, which the characters visit throughout the story. Both endsheets have been embelished with hand painted liquid gold leaf elements.


The epigraph for the novel was something I hadn’t planned on including. But, after learning more about it I saw that it is as much a part of the book as any of the chapters. The quote is by Thomas Parke D’Invilliers, who is a character made up by Fitzgerald. He also makes an appearance in This Side of Paradise. By writing the epigraph himself and attributing it to a fictional character we get to know Fitzgerald’s literary hubris before the story even begins. So the epigraph has been appropriately included and placed over a photograph of a 1920’s mansion, taken from a vintage postcard. The text is set the left align with the roof line of the house.


The half title of the book is hand cut into Gmund Treasury Nature paper. The full title is set in a specific blue-green color that is used throughout the book. This is meant to echo the green sym- bols used througout the story, including Daisy’s light and wealth. But, there is also a lot of blue surrounding Gatsby in the story. His gardens are blue, his chauffeur wears blue, the water separating him from Daisy is his “blue lawn,” mingled with the “blue smoke of brittle leaves” in his yard. This is why it’s important that the colors inside the book are somewhere in between green and blue, so that the less obvious themes of the book can also be protrayed in the design.