Chang Jae Lee on Book Design and Korean Photography

Lost Souls design by Chang Jae LeeChang Jae Lee, of our very talented designers, was recently interviewed by Asian Global Impact.

In the interview, Chang Jae revealed the process that goes into selecting the appropriate image and design for a book as well as discussing some of the covers he is most proud of. Chang Jae has designed a wide range of Columbia University Press books but some of his most memorable ones have been from Columbia’s list in philosophy and Asian fiction. Asked about how book design has changed in the age of the e-book, Chang Jae expressed optimism regarding the physical book:

I am pretty pessimistic about everything else, but I am not pessimistic about the future of books…. The physicality of books is important, and I think it can only be further accentuated, enhanced with thoughtful design. All successful designs achieve communication—translating the written language and its core ideas into the visual language, transforming them logically, succinctly, and viscerally.

Chang Jae also discussed his work as the curator for the a recent, critically praised photography exhibit Traces of Life: Seen Through Korean Eyes, 1945-1992. Chang Jae, who grew up in South Korea before his family moved to Seattle was interested in displaying photographs that reflected the full history of that dramatic period:

I wanted to show a past not predicated on biased, selective memories, and fill the chasm in the visual archive of the modern Korean vernacular spanning the period from 1945 to 1992. I intended it to be a counterpoint to what we often recognise as the Korean vernacular, the images doused by the turbulent history of the period itself: liberation, the Korean War, coup d’état, military dictatorship, industrialisation, and the ensuing struggles for democracy. You see, even during this sweeping modernisation and the sociopolitical upheaval, the children laughed in their play and the people lived their everyday lives.

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