Client

Imperial War Museums
(IWM London)


Project
 
The War on Paper:

20 Documents That Defined
the Second World War

Roles

Art Direction
Book Design
Layout & Typography
Photography


Collaborators
Anthony Richards (Author)
Madeleine Evans (Copy + Publisher)
Stephen Long (Proofing / Supervision)
BM Photography Department (Imagery)

Publisher
IWM Publishing

Photography
Albert Palen

Retouching / Post
Kabir Singh

Details
Hardback 176 pages,
includes 5 replica
documents


Subject

Taking a chronological approach, The War on Paper tells the story of the most destructive war in history through 20 key documents held in the IWM archives.

Ranging from high-level iconic records including the signed order to invade Poland on August 1939 and Hitler’s final will and testament, to more personal items such as Kindertransport identity papers and the ration book of Queen Mary, The Queen Mother. Published to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the signing of the Munich Agreement, this book gives a great insight into how 20 pieces of paper came to shape the Second World War and history as we know it.

Anthony Richards is the Head of Documents and Sound at IWM. Since 1995 he has worked on the diaries, letters and memoirs in the museum’s care and is responsible for its extensive collection of personal testimony in both written and audio form. He is the author of In Their Own Words: Untold Stories of the First World War (2016) and The Somme: A Visual History(2016).

This summation is taken from the official IWM Publishing description for the publication (link). It’s so well described that me writing an alternative wouldn’t have done it justice.






Process

The Design of this book began with a variation of different design routes. The original concept began with a lean towards typographic integrity, making sure the reader knew ‘where’ these key documents related too.

During the process, the team felt the documents were losing the importance they deserved throughout the original layout so we stripped it back and concentrated on making each chapter (20 in total) as integral as the other. This allowed the documents to shine equally.


While sitting down with Anthony to hear his vision for the book, I had this idea that I wanted to present to him. It involved producing replica facsimile documents the reader could physically hold in their hands while reading the book. Something tactile which would allow them to feel how small or large the original documents were at the time. It was an idea that Maddy, the publisher decided to run with and I was really happy it came to fruition.





Result

The Final Book is fundamentally, a team achievement. I thank Maddy and Stephen for trusting me with its design. This project was one of my favourites at IWM. I thoroughly enjoyed concepting, designing and researching it’s subject matter while laying it out.

It not only allowed me to work alongside the museums experienced publishing team but it also gave me the opportunity to see a number of objects of enormous historical importance from the IWM archive. These included objects that many people will never get the opportunity to witness in person up close. That was something pretty special.






Book Photography

I decided to photograph this project in a direction where it could have been found and photographed by the secret service during World War II. A subtle nod, and in a style where key documents have been shot under harsh and intense spotlight. My initial vision was seeing photographs of high-ranking military arched around a wooden table planning their next strategic offensive on a map.









Art Direction

The two photographs below are from the first photoshoot we undertook for the Cover and inserts of TWOP. They capture just a glimpse of what we shot. I art-directed the shoot and tried to capture the spirit of the documents in full, in detail. To capture a secret nature they hold within the archive of the museum to this day.


Left — Original typewriter from the Cabinet War Rooms
(Now Churchill War Rooms, London. Used during the war. 

Right — The signature of one of the most notorious evil men in human history. I will not spell out his name on my website out of respect to the lives lost because of his orders. Here is a handwritten signature from his last will in testament. I must admit, quite terrifying to have held this in my hands.