By Paul Belford

There’s a magic box sitting on your desk.

Not only does it allow you to watch pretty much any film you want, listen to any music and look at any other piece of art, design or literature, it gives you the means to actually produce that stuff, too. And then share it with billions of people. All you need is an idea.

So what’s stopping you using all of this?

It seems that too often, many of us who work in the creative sector settle into our own narrow disciplines. We gravitate towards the area that we enjoy the most, do our 10,000 hours, become quite good and then that’s all anyone ever asks to do commercially. It’s a great shame. And a waste.

Personally, I’ve always resisted this. So when art directing, I usually do my own design and typography. I occasionally even take the photograph as well. I do loads of personal photography. I write this column. Just for the hell of it, I’ve been dabbling with watercolours recently. And I’ve been trying to learn Cinema 4D for bloody years.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not only does the multidisciplinary approach keep life more interesting, it often leads to fresh, unexpected solutions to creative problems. Combining typography with photography, for example. Who knows what’s possible if you know your f-stops from your apertures and your kerning from your ligatures? And studying the work of past masters from different fields gives us a much wider range of references to bring to our own work. So surely it makes perfect sense for us all to widen the brackets of what ‘we do’ creatively.

I suspect that the designer of this month’s featured work would have agreed wholeheartedly. The piece here is a book jacket from 1971 by Portuguese designer Paulo Guilherme. Although to just call him a designer is doing him a great disservice. More accurately, I should really say architect, filmmaker, writer, painter, illustrator, designer of books, interiors, stamps, coins and owner and decorator of nightclubs.

But he clearly also knew what he was doing in graphic design. This is a book about an assassination plot. So the graphic representation of a human figure with a target for a head is a neat visual solution. The limited colour palette of black, brown and white doesn’t fight with the simple illustration. And there’s an interesting mix of slab-serif and sans type (although that space between the ‘n’ and the ‘j’ is a tiny bit annoying). This design is powerful, cool and not remotely dated, even 45 years later.

I would wager that Guilherme’s experience as an illustrator and painter, as well as a designer, helped create this great cover.

Just imagine what he would have done with the tools available to us today.

Paul Belford is founder and creative director of agency Paul Belford Ltd. See and @belford_paul

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