anthon bouwer

The Passionate Builder


Books and buildings are three-dimensional objects. You hold a book and behold a building. Both occupy space and with that privilege comes the responsibility to design interiors that are esthetically desirable and functional. 
Structure is naturally important to architects as well as graphic designers who develop books, especially those with visual elements. A designer must create the spirit and character of the book while satisfying its function. Anthon knows about the need for pacing,  surprise, innovation and satisfying the goal of the work. With the pages of a book we have the dimension of time. He exploits the same possibilities as work on film as the experience builds with the turn of every page.
The spreads for Anthon’s books that I have seen are a result of a system for a variety of material.  A difficult task but  the gestalt is apparent and the character of each book is preserved.
Anthon’s curious brain has always looked for adventure…digging a little deeper to find the right idea, photograph, typeface and method of presentation. He always seems to confound my expectation while drawing my admiration for an exciting, if not perfect, solution. For Anthon the message is supreme and trying to preserve one style, method and technique is not. He designed the cover of a catalog  of posters, created by a variety of designers, celebrating the work of Toulouse-Lautrec. The design could not look like his work or anybody else’s in the catalog. His solution was to do an expressionistic rendering of the title. Different for him but a beautiful result.

He shares my fascination with the kind of bad art and type as see in his matchbook label book. The primitive and innocent images speak of an earlier, simpler age and charm many for us with delightful and easy impact. Reviewing his work I can’t find a way to categorize his approach and style. He can work equally well with photography, diagrams, typography and illustration using a variety of printing processes to great advantage. Unusual surfaces, texture and patterns are other techniques to serve Anthon’s purposes, whims and desires.
I always thought Anthon’s gentle face belonged to a kind and cuddly grandfather type. This is only a smokescreen, since behind it is a mind that has produced some of the most outrageous and erotic images to be found in mass market media, especially record covers and posters. (I do not include the naked ladies alphabet with the others. It is elegant and typographically correct but not erotic.) His fifty years of poster making comes with the warning: “A poster must shock!”
I am pleased to present one of the tributes to Anthon’s work. I am a friend and colleague who is testifying that he is among the greatest of designers from anywhere and any time.


text Seymour Chwast
photo Anthon Beeke
2008, photographed by Corbino