An Interview with Jacqueline Miró, Creative Director of Luna Press

May 14th, 2020

Our Creative Director Jacqueline Miró was kind enough to share some stories and insights with the LUNAtics blog. We hope you enjoy as she recounts her history with Luna Press, gives a peek into the book design process, and discusses the other endeavors she’s undertaken over the course of her fascinating career.

How did you first come to know and work with Josephine Sacabo, and later, with Luna Press?

I met Josephine and Dalt at a friend’s party, a visiting professor at Tulane School of Architecture, where I was a student. I knew of Josephine’s work, but did not realize that we came from such similar backgrounds. At the time I was fascinated by darkroom processes and Latin American poetry, so we started collaborating on specific projects. We became friends, and I was her model for many years.

The idea of Luna Press came many years after that first meeting. I was really into magazines and graphic and book design at the time, so it made sense to join an endeavor like Luna Press.

You’ve worked as an Editor with magazines such as Man of the World. What are the similarities and differences in designing/crafting stories for a magazine vs. putting together a book?

Every finished product starts with a concept from which one develops a narrative. Man of the World had a very strong narrative, and a lot of content – both visual and written – to be produced. As part of a very small  team assembling a niche product, I had the chance to be involved in every step of the process. In a magazine, and particularly a quarterly, one thinks of each issue as a whole story – be it summer, fall, winter or spring – and each feature fits into that story’s frame.  Man of the World was thought of as a book, in fact; a collectors’ item. The paper, the cover material, the binding and the quality of the print and content were carefully considered. So in that sense it was closer to a book than a monthly magazine with a larger distribution, where it is all about the brand.

In addition to your work in the publishing industry, you’ve curated several art exhibitions such as Venice in Venice at the 2011 Venice Biennale. How has being a curator influenced your design work, and vice versa?

Interestingly, both my interest in curating, and in graphic design come from Urban Theory, and the idea of small communities or grass roots movements having a strong visual identity to communicate their ideas. I’m a huge fan of posters, a popular medium of communicating within a very limited frame work. 

Luna Press is known for producing beautiful, high quality books at affordable prices. In addition, the press also produces a limited number of handmade art books for their “Luxury Edition” series. Can you walk us through the design and production processes for these rare objects: what makes them so special and unique, and what separates them from the Trade Edition books that make up the majority of Luna Press’s catalog?  Furthermore, do you have a favorite book or project you’ve worked on in your time with Luna Press? One that meant the most to you personally or one that you were particularly proud of?

The Luna Press Luxury Editions are handmade as opposed to printed, which requires them to be produced in extremely limited numbers. Though we use a fantastic printer in Iceland – ODDI – for our Trade Editions, with the Luxury Editions books, we get to work closely with book artisans, and in particular with Small Editions in Red Hook, NY. An example of how we work on one of these books would be Beyond Thought, which has photographs by Josephine Sacabo and short texts by Clarice Lispector. In order to achieve what we often call “the third thing” – that which is in itself unique and comes out of a combination of factors – we used a translucent paper, Mura Udaban – and let the bleed be part of the book’s composition, giving it a ghostly effect on the retroverso, enhancing the image or text on the facing page. For this book, we collaborated with a poster artist – Jim Evans of TAZ – to create seals for each of the book’s sections, and an original custom font. Though it is my favorite Luxury Edition book, I believe Lux Perpetua and the French Quarter Fables are better examples of how the Luxury Editions are in a sense, blueprints for the Trade Editions, where we can work out the kinks between content, concept, design and production. The Luxury Editions involve the artists and writers, their studio assistants who print actual photogravures for the books, designers and bookmakers in a way that a mass printed book, no matter the quality and proofing process, can’t. 

Is someone who has lived all over the world, what do you find unique about New Orleans that makes the city hold such a special place in your heart?

I originally knew the city as a kid, as my grandparents preferred to go to New Orleans than Miami. To them it was more old fashioned, and had the kind of culture that they came from: French and Spanish. It was more elegant, to say the least, and had more history. I can’t imagine a better place, personally, to go to school of Architecture. The professors I met here were some of the most well rounded people I ever met. Grover Mouton, Franklyn Adams, Milton Scheuermann are amongst the people I’ve met in NO whom I will never forget. Then there is the climate and vegetation, so similar to home.

Last but not least: the obvious. Friends I have made for life.

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