Winner of 14th Carl Hertzog Award Announced

At the start of The University of Texas at El Paso’s Centennial year, the Friends of the Library have named book designers Arlyn Nathan and Tom Leech winners of the 14th Carl Hertzog Award for Excellence in Book Design for Jack Thorp’s Songs of the Cowboys by Jack Thorp with editor Mark Lee Gardner (2012). The book was published by The Press at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, N.M.

The three judges also awarded two honorable mentions. One went to designer Carolee Campbell for Lives of Artists by W.S. Merwin (2013) from Ninja Press in Sherman Oaks, Calif. The other went to J.B. Bryan and Tom Leech for O’Keeffe Stories by Margaret Wood (2012) from The Press at the Palace of the Governors, giving Leech both first place and an honorable mention.

The books designed by the winners and runners-up will be exhibited in the University Library for two months after an award ceremony on March 9.

Nathan and Leech will receive a $1,000 cash prize, a framed certificate and a bronze medal designed by Hertzog’s longtime associate, the late Tom Lea. Jack Thorp’s Songs of the Cowboys will become part of the library’s permanent collection.

Former University Library director Robert A. Seal and the Associates of the University Library (now called the Friends of the Library) founded the award as an annual lecture series in 1989. They added a juried award in 1991, and it became a biennial event after 1996.

The biennial competition is open to presses and publishers of all types and sizes, but the books are required to be at least 16 pages in length with a minimum print run of 25 copies. Additionally, the books must be entirely produced in the United States.

Gerald Lange received the first Carl Hertzog Award in 1991 for designing The Letter of Columbus on His Discovery of the New World (1989) published by USC Press. Lange returned to UTEP as a judge for the 2014 competition. He is the founder and proprietor of The Bieler Press in Marina del Rey, Calif. The other two judges were local to El Paso: Antonio Castro H., associate professor of graphic design at UTEP, and Lorez Curlin Retta, Friends of the Library board member with expertise in commercial and residential art and design.

One thing all three judges had in common was a sincere love for the smell, feel and design of books. The significance of the award and its potential for changing the life of the recipient weighed heavily on the minds of the judges. Indeed, the first round of judging lasted an hour longer than originally scheduled as Lange, Castro and Curlin Retta carefully examined each of this competition’s 48 entries.

During the second round, the judges provided numerical scores based on factors such as the binding, title page, paper, typography and layout. During the third round, the judges collaborated and examined the books with the highest scores from the second round to decide on the winner and honorable mentions.

Lange said Nathan and Leech’s winning entry, “seemed the perfect selection, not only because of its exceptional execution and production perfection, but also because it seemed to be so in tune with the tone and work of the awards' namesake, the great Southwest designer and printer Carl Hertzog. The book’s colored illustrations served as the perfect breaks for the text.”

Curlin Retta said of the winning entry, "Excellent design, the vivid use of materials, and colorfully detailed illustrations created a visual tribute to the cowboy, the Southwest and a rich history.”

Castro said runners-up Bryan and Leech’s entry had “a subtle, elegant and quiet beauty.” He added that Campbell’s entry had “a classic and simple beauty. The other two judges and myself commented on how we felt it was a product of love.”

The Carl Hertzog Award for Excellence in Book Design is meant to underscore the importance of fine printing as an art, encourage work by new and established artisans, and to biennially recognize outstanding accomplishments in the field.

Hertzog was a prominent typographer and book designer who brought his international renown to the then-Texas College of Mines in 1948. He launched Texas Western Press in 1952 and served as its director until 1972. The University Library has many volumes published by Hertzog in its collection, each bearing a standard of excellence that is unparalleled to this day.

The 2012 Carl Hertzog Award winner, Robert Tauber, will serve as the 16th lecture speaker during the award ceremony on March 9.

One additional benefit of the Carl Hertzog Award, aside from celebrating excellence in book design, is that the University has received 723 books from entries donated to the library, and other entries have been purchased at a discount.

For more information about the Friends of the Library and to see a list of past winners, visit: libraryweb.utep.edu/about/friends.php.