Mark Nelson, ’91
Mark Nelson is a designer of fine books for artists and museums, and a partner at McCall Associates in New York.
Art and design are never far apart in the work of Mark Nelson, a designer of fine books for artists and museums. A partner at McCall Associates in New York, he’s worked with the likes of I.M. Pei and Richard Serra, and the Whitney Museum and MOMA.
“Since seventh grade,” he explains, “there was never any question I’d do anything else. And I loved LP album covers; I used to just sit and stare at them while listening to music.” Now, the content he shapes isn’t audible but is instead loaded with text and images—and the design of fine-art books is far different from album covers or dust jackets. “The books I work on take sometimes more than a year each, and I’m usually doing about four at any given time. You need to concentrate on and retain an extreme amount of minutiae!”
Attention to details prepared Nelson to create books as well; with writing partner Sarah Hudson Bayliss, he created 2007’s Exquisite Corpse, an examination of a famed Los Angeles murder as understood through Surrealism. His latest research project is a detailed history of two famed 1940s art collectors and their gallery-like home. “Previously drawn lines between professions are increasingly blurry,” he notes; “it’s been amazing to see that design skills can bring my own historical research to life.”