Spreads from Anna Nazo’s MFA Thesis book, Central Saint Martins

The Thesis Book Project is a new collaboration between The Design Observer Group and Blurb, Inc. that seeks to recognize exceptionally designed student books produced and printed, on demand, using Blurb tools.

Here’s how it works:

The thesis book is the final deliverable for most graduating students in design programs across the United States and abroad. The book itself is a dazzling encapsulation of intense study: an entire body of work researched, crafted, written, designed, edited, and bound into a single volume. Yet all too often these documents are cast aside following the obligatory final review. Despite the fact that they represent countless hours and result in hard-earned expertise, they are too swiftly relegated to archives and libraries where they are seldom, if ever, seen again.

We want to change this.

With this new initiative, we invite graduating Master’s and Bachelor’s level students to share their thesis books. Any book designed using Blurb tools (which are compatible with InDesign) will be eligible. Students will be able to upload sample PDFs of their books: all entries will appear on the site, and links to Blurb means that anyone can buy your book, with the proceeds going to you.

Our mutual goal is to make the Thesis Book project site a public forum for engagement around these books. With this in mind we will invite every student entering a book to fill out a profile/landing page.

We’ve invited a small group of educators (who are themselves book designers) to identify one thesis book, and we will feature their selections—in conversation with the book’s author and designer—here on this site later this spring/summer. We hope that students will come to think of their profile pages as places to initiate their own lively conversations, and hope that many of you will participate.

Simply put, we have three main goals.

To celebrate the Blurb-produced thesis book as an example of design excellence
To honor the student—as author and maker—at the epicenter of this discussion
To elevate the importance of book design and engage a wider audience in doing so

We continue to believe that there is a body of knowledge about design—from typography to grids, photography to geometry, scale to sequence to form and meaning—that would be best explained by the people who do it best. (That would be you.) But we also think there’ something critically important about having something to say: voice, tone, authorship are equally important. (That would be you, too.) Successful thesis books are both, and their makers are uniquely positioned to respond to questions and issues relating to the creation of these very original volumes.

You are a recent Masters or Bachelor’s recipient in graphic or communication design who received a degree between January 2012 and June 2015 and who made a thesis book using Blurb print-on-demand software.

All thesis books produced in all countries, between January 2012 and June 2015 will be eligible for entry. Books must be created using Blurb plug-in tools. Online entry forms will be available on this site in April 2015 and must be completed by midnight on June 30, 2015.

Jessica Helfand, USA + France
Anette Lenz, France + Switzerland
Ellen Lupton, USA
Erik Spiekermann, Germany
Tony Brook, UK
Adrian Shaughnessy, UK
Astrid Stavro, Spain

By choosing to enter your book, you agree to grant Design Observer and Blurb permission to show portions of your work, all credited and linked to you, on their web sites and in their promotional materials.

Email your questions to [email protected] and we'll answer them right away.