Book Design

The first book from musical artist Justin Timberlake features a design as varied as his career.

The award-winning musician and actor Justin Timberlake reflects on his life and career in his first book, Hindsight & All the Things I Can’t See in Front of Me, published by Harper Design. Filled with personal anecdotes and observations, the book offers insight into Timberlake's creative process and inspirations, illustrated with over 250 images including photographs from his personal archives, many never before published. Pentagram’s design for the book captures the breadth and variety of the multi-talented performer's career, "remixing" his story with type and image―including over 30 different typefaces.

Pentagram collaborated closely on the project with Timberlake and Harper Design Executive Editor Elizabeth Viscott Sullivan, as well as Rachael Yarbrough, his long-standing photographer (and also his cousin), who shot the cover and helped with photo research, and David Cho, his creative director. Timberlake is known for his sharp visual style and was actively engaged in the design process, working with the team to select images and typography. In the book, written with Sandra Bark, Timberlake covers his earliest memories about music and his Memphis upbringing; his rise with N’Sync and Grammy Award-winning solo stardom; his frequent "Saturday Night Live" and "Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" appearances and roles in movies like "The Social Network"; songwriting and producing his latest album, "Man of the Woods"; and his life as a husband and father.

The Pentagram team developed a design that is characteristically dynamic, elegant and playful, fusing text and image to evoke the many facets of Timberlake’s career and the excitement of his performances. The book is organized around three chronological sections―“The Connection,” “The Practice” and “The Stillness”―but with a loose, organic structure that allows jump-off points for other topics, showing how Timberlake’s different projects influence each other and how his life informs his art.

Each chapter is given its own distinctive type treatment, riffing on the subject at hand with fonts that range from scanned specimens of American wood type (a nod to Timberlake’s Memphis roots) to new custom typefaces, including one that is hand-drawn, inspired by Timberlake writing lyrics while recording. Spreads and sequences are devoted to iconic songs and videos like “SexyBack” and “Mirrors” and the SNL short “Dick in a Box,” along with inside jokes and asides for long-time fans, as well as quiet moments, like blank pages illustrating the importance of silence in a song.

New York
Michael Bierut
Project team
Britt Cobb
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