Gabrielle Guy Books

WORK/LIFE: Gabrielle Guy — book designer

The designer of an impressive collection of art books chats about work and life


Gabrielle Guy designs art books, catalogues and brand identities. Her most recent books include Zander Blom – Paintings Volume 1, Daniel Naudé – Animal Farm, and über(W)unden. Guy was born in Cape Town, and has spent time living in Johannesburg and Hermanus, where she completed high school. She studied Graphic Design at Cape Technikon (now the Cape Peninsula University of Technology), graduating in 2002, and has been freelancing since 2006.

What are you working on at the moment?

A big Brett Murray artist monograph, a Deborah Poynton book for her upcoming show, Pictures, at Stevenson in September, a photo book by Annette Bonnier for a US publisher, and, soon, The Erotic Drawings of Anton Kannemeyer.

Describe your work space.

I work from home in my study at the back of the house. A fairly small room that also acts as the guest room (there is a bed in the corner), it is usually quite messy and is packed with books, papers, drawings and scribbles, reference material, hard drives, my bicycle, and boxes of old diaries and notebooks. I have a Claudette Schreuders drawing hanging above my desk, and a print by Brett Murray on a facing wall — both gifts from the artists. I usually cover the walls in pictures and print-outs of things that currently inspire me, which I change fairly often.

The most important instrument you use?

Adobe InDesign – the only programme to use for creating layouts, books, and working with text.

What’s your most productive time of day?

Mid-morning. Getting up early is not my favourite thing in the world… A mid-morning coffee is a must.

What do you do when you’re stuck, or not feeling creative?

I have an afternoon nap.

Your work’s influences?

Adrian Frutiger’s Univers/ black/ London/ Paris/ Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief/ Wallpaper*/ Monocle/ Sean O’Toole/ “Swiss style”/ Coco Chanel/ Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead/ budgets/ magnolia flowers/ language/ The Breakfast Club/ William Turner/ Design Indaba/ Modernism/ cyan magenta yellow/ light/ dark/ Versailles/ How to Make a Book with Steidl 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

“When work feels overwhelming, remember that you’re going to die.”

What’s the hardest thing about your job?

Sitting in front of a computer for most of the day.

What do you dislike most about yourself?

That I am a perfectionist.

The book you’re proudest of designing?

I think my favourite book was Nicholas Hlobo’s Standard Bank Young Artist Award 2009 — it was the first time I really played with materials, and the book as an object referencing the artists’ work. The limited collector’s edition was fantastic: we did a stiffer cover and tipped-in a large fold-out of blank paper at the front of the book that Nicholas then drew and stitched onto, effectively turning the book into a work of art.

How do you relax?


Gabrielle-Guy-3Gabrielle Guy Illustration & Work SpaceGabrielle-Guy-1



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