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1. Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum and an interview with Zack Rock

Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum by Zack Rock

by Zack Rock (Creative Editions, 2014)

Zack Rock and I haunt some of the same circles on the internet. I have a tshirt with his work on it thanks to Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves (how cool is that header?), and I have long admired his work thanks to some tea time at Seven Impossible Things here and here. And once upon a time in 2012, Zack wrote a hilarious joke for a Hallowtweet contest run by Adam Rex and Steven Malk.

I remember that well, cause in fun-facts-here-at-Design-of-the-Picture-Book both Julie Falatko and I were runners-up in that contest, and the real prize was getting her friendship. Start of an era, for sure. (Although Zack did get an original piece of Adam Rex art, and we’d both admit to coveting that a little. See below!)

So. I’ve had my eye out for this book for years. Years! And I was so happy that Zack spent some time chatting with me about this smorgasbord of stuff and story. He also said he “answered the living daylights” out of these questions, so I sure hope you enjoy the living daylights out of them like I did.

Welcome, Zack! (That jovial picture is from his blog, where he has killer posts like this one on bad drawings and perspective. Check it out!)

IMG_9253breakerHomer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum by Zack Rock

One thing I know that’s true of kids is that they love a billion teensy and scrutinize-able details in books. Your book starts out with such cool stuff on the endpapers, that I almost (only almost) don’t want to keep going! Do you have any kind of catalog for these curiosities, or did you just create anything and everything that felt right? Is there a backstory for each of these elements?!

I drew whatever felt right, “right” being subject to how exhausted my imagination was at the time. And though I’d like to leave the history of the curios up to the readers’ interpretation, I carry a backstory for each in my mind—some more convoluted than others.

For instance, in the museum there’s an antique, penny arcade cabinet inspired by the Musée Mécanique, which houses scores of these old contraptions in San Francisco. So to honor them, I fitted my museum’s machine with a tiny, top-hatted automaton of one of SF’s most curious citizens: Norton I, self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States of America (a real guy). So plenty of thought went into that curio.

On the other hand, another curio is an apple with a faucet sticking out of it because I was thirsty when I drew it.Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum by Zack Rock

(I love the way this whole book starts. I feel like I’m in really good hands.)

Thanks! I like to consider myself the Allstate of illustrators.

What’s your studio like? Do you have trinkets and tschotskes or a cool window view?

Believe it or not, I’m allergic to collecting stuff, so my studio is bare as a monk’s cell. My mother, however, has a fondness/compulsion for antiquing in bulk; almost none of her massive collection of furniture and doodads got past the door of my childhood home without having first seen several generations of use. It lent the crowded house an air of the same well-worn nostalgia that permeates the pages of my book.studio

Surely you’ve hidden some easter eggs in these pages. Any hints? Any behind-the-scenes stories?

Now I regret not hiding an actual Easter Egg in the museum. Honestly, nearly everything in the book is an Easter Egg, since there’s a secret story encased in each curio. But instead of cracking those open, I’ll share a behind-the-scenes tour of the book’s present day setting.

I created the book while living in Seattle, and Pacific Northwest references are littered throughout it. The license plate on the VW Bug in the first scene reads “FRMTTRL,” an allusion to the massive concrete Fremont Troll lurking beneath the Seattle’s Aurora Bridge. The museum exterior is based on the old town hall in Bellingham, WA, and the fictional island it crashed on is named for Washington State’s notorious children’s writer, Sherman Alexie. A Washington State ferry, the Olympic Mountains, a totem pole from Pike Place Market, and a handful of other Puget Sound souvenirs also make an appearance in the book.Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum by Zack Rock

This book has a real undercurrent of ignored things being a treasure with a story. Are you a treasure hunter or a treasure-leaver-for-somebody-else? (I think that’s what making books is, so you are that one for sure. I guess what I’m asking is why do you think HHH was such a collector of stories, and do you see any parallels in your own life of creative curating?)

Ooo, books as treasures to be discovered, I like that! Makes me sound like a pirate.

Homer is an underdog; nobody would look at him and assume his adventures extend beyond an expedition to the local sushi restaurant. He identifies himself with the object’s he curates, so he surrounds himself with the lost and neglected, and by exhibiting their rich history to the world he literally shares his own biography.

And I’ll leave the parallels with my own life to the armchair psychoanalysts.Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum by Zack Rock

What came first to you in this story: words or pictures? Can you talk to being a picture book creator who deals with both parts? (And in case anyone’s wondering, my favorite line is this one: My luggage may be dusty. But my hat still fits.)

Ha, that’s the one line written entirely by my editor Aaron! He suggested it while editing the book, and I thought it was great too, so we kept it in.

Being an author/illustrator isn’t terribly different than being solely a writer, the main distinction is that you have a visual language to express the story as well. So I can employ the duel butterfly nets of text and images to capture the picture book ideas that flutter into view, jotting notes alongside small thumbnail sketches as I try to pin down plot/character/theme details. It becomes a balancing act of seeing which of the two, words or images, best conveys what needs to be communicated.Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum by Zack Rock Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum by Zack RockWhat’s your creative process like? Any weird routines? What’s your medium of choice?

My only real habit—creative or otherwise—are the nightly walks I take after work, allowing my legs and mind to wander. In fact, I got the original idea for Homer Henry Hudson during one of these constitutionals.

And for picture books I work almost exclusively in watercolor, though for other projects I work in pen and ink, digitally, or with accidental food stains.

Who are your literary and artistic heroes?

They’re all in the book! Along with Shaun Tan, Maurice Sendak and Lisbeth Zwerger—who I painted into a restaurant scene—there’s references to Søren Kierkegaard, Jorges Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, Renee Magritte, Herman Melville, JD Salinger, George Orwell, Ingmar Bergman, Charles Schulz, and of course, Homer. Even my favorite comedian, Paul F Tompkins, whose podcasts kept me company during the long hours of illustrating the book, has a cameo as a pipe-smoking painting.Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum by Zack Rock

Do you have a favorite piece of artwork hanging in your house? Or a favorite tune that feels like art?

A few years ago, Adam Rex held a contest to see who could fit the best Halloween haiku into the constraints of a tweet. To my surprise he picked mine, and to my utter flabbergastination he went on to illustrate it and sent me the original art! It’s incredible. I framed it above my art desk as a reminder that, with hard work and dedication to my craft, I may one day hope to be the poor man’s Adam Rex.

Why books for kids?

One of the most valuable skills to possess is the ability to approach the world and its inhabitants with wonder, curiosity and interest. What’s great about kids is that they do this naturally and without being self-conscious. My hope is that Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum and future books will be something readers carry with them as they grow older and are tempted to lose that wonder, reminders there’s so much more to the world, the things in it, and yourself to discover if you approach life with an open heart.

Plus, I have nothing to say that couldn’t be said by a talking dog.Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum by Zack RockWhat’s next for you?

Another book for Creative Editions about the power of stories, this time from the perspective of an acrobatic pig.

How can we buy your book?

Through your local struggling independent bookseller. Or Powells.com. Or, sigh, Amazon.com.

What did I miss?

There are humanoid pears hanging in the first illustration of the museum interior, bottom of the page. Look past the table leg and Grecian urn. See that? It’s a butt!Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum by Zack RockbreakerI’m pretty sure that’s the first butt mention on this blog. Have any treasure-hunters? Or fans of hidden picture art? Since we all love talking dogs, this book is a great choice for all readers everywhere.

ch

 

 


Tagged: adam rex, color, creative editions, pattern, repetition, zack rock

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2. Winners!

JTD

Here’s what back to school looks like for me. Send good vibes, please! And a special shout out to Jess Keating for alerting me to dementors in the library. (Have you read her book yet?!)

Speaking of Jess, she was one of ten winners from this giveaway a ways back. Thanks for waiting this one out, friends. And thanks to Once Upon a Time for ordering a slew of goodies for me.

Congrats to the other nine: Kathy Ellen Davis, Mary Ann Scheuer, Suellen Franze, Audrey Snyder, Stacy Jensen, Elizabeth Metz, Gail Buschman, Deb Dudley, and Lauri Fortino.

Thanks for hanging out here, and in the words of Mr. Schu: Happy Reading!

ch

 

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3. The Wonderful Egg and an interview with Flying Eye Books

The Wonderful Egg by Dahlov Ipcar(image here.)

by Dahlov Ipcar (Flying Eye Books, 2014; originally published 1958.)

The great folks at Flying Eye sent me this book a while back, and I’ve been staring at it for weeks. Months. It’s enchanting. And simple. And complex. And a huge restoration effort, which was a bit mind-blowing to understand. That’s why I consulted the experts.

But if you don’t know Dahlov Ipcar and her bright body of work, check this out first:

breaker

Because her original plates were lost long ago, Flying Eye figured out a way to bring this story to many new readers. It’s remarkable. Here’s my conversation with Sam Arthur, Flying Eye’s Managing Director. And of course, some really beautiful art. (Click any of the images to enlarge.)

The Wonderful Egg by Dahlov Ipcar

Can you describe the original way the art was created? I understand it to be color separated plates, but is that the best way to describe it? Sort of like a silkscreen process?

The original separations would have been created on drafting film or trace paper. In this way the process is very similar to preparing artwork for a silkscreen process. The main difference being that offset lithography allows for subtler more detailed textures than most screen printing processes as the ‘screen’ (meaning dots that make up the image – also known as half tone) is made up with smaller dots. I think Dahlov made her original artwork using mixed media, collage, pastel brush and wash.The Wonderful Egg by Dahlov Ipcar

So the original art was unavailable, I assume? Can you describe the steps in the process to remaster the work?

The original artwork had been lost over the years, so our challenge was to recreate the new book using artwork from finished books that were from the original print runs (printed in the early 60s). All of the information we required was in these books. Most publishers would have simply scanned the images and printed them using standard CMYK reproduction (a composite image made up of dots using cyan, magenta, yellow and black). Our intentions were different, we wanted to produce the book in the same way as the original, which used 4 different special spot colours (or Pantone colours as they are now called).

In order to reproduce the book using the original printing technique, we had to recreate the original separations from the flattened, printed artwork. That was the tricky bit, we had to scan the artwork at very high resolution and then using photoshop un-pick the colours and put them into separate layers. The difficult thing is where the colours overlap each other, sometimes it’s difficult to see and it helps to have the original book to hand. So in the end the process uses photoshop selection tools, but also hand retouching. It’s a skilled job. The Wonderful Egg by Dahlov IpcarThe Wonderful Egg by Dahlov Ipcar

How many people worked on this? How long did it take and how long was it in the works?

The first book we did was The Wonderful Egg and it took 5 weeks to complete all of the images. There were two of us working on it, but we had a tight schedule and when it came to working on I Like Animals we had to call on three others to help us meet our deadline.

Was the way color was printed in the 1950s and 1960s drastically different from today? How?

In the 50s and 60s most of children’s books that were illustrated were printed using separations created by the illustrator. As time went on and technology improved illustrator’s artwork would be photographed and translated into CMYK separations using a photographic process. In the early days presumably this process was more expensive than simply asking illustrators to provide their own separations. Many children’s books also had a 4/2 colour scheme – meaning half of the book would include 4 colour images and the other half would have 2 colour images. This would save money in the printing process and also give the illustrator slightly less work to do on the 2 colour images. It does give these books a nice rhythm as you turn the pages. It was a practical consideration that has fed into the aesthetic, that’s quite interesting in itself.I Like Animals by Dahlov Ipcar

(image here.)

I’m curious if you got any backlash for republishing something with incorrect factual information? As a reader (and a librarian!) I love the choice, and see such value in preserving a particularly lovely era in picture books, but I wonder if you received any negative feedback. (Hope not.)

We have had a few comments, not really negative ones, more observations of the change in thought on the origin of dinosaurs etc. I think most people realise quickly that it’s an old title, so there is different kind of appeal when reading it. Also as I stated above the key story behind the egg, is still relevant in today’s thinking.I Like Animals by Dahlov Ipcar I Like Animals by Dahlov Ipcar

Why did you all decide to remaster this book, and are there plans for others as well? (We are thankful and we are hopeful, too!)

We decided to remaster this book as it felt quite contemporary in it’s treatment of the subject matter even though knowledge of the subject has changed, but the key message is still widely accepted in palaeontology. The illustrations are beautiful and we wanted to Dahlov’s this work to a new generation. This year we also released her book I Like Animals, next year we will be re-publishing Black & White and Wild & Tame Animals also by Dahlov Ipcar.I Like Animals by Dahlov Ipcarbreaker

Cool, right? What a legacy! Big thanks to Flying Eye for gathering us all around the campfire in celebration of great stories.

And speaking of color separations, check out this post at Seven Impossible Things for a look at how Jonathan Bean is doing the same thing in a contemporary picture book. Unreal. But very real, which is the great news.

ch

Thanks to the folks at Flying Eye (Tucker, Sam, and Emily!) for the images in this post. I received a copy of The Wonderful Egg, but all thoughts are my own.


Tagged: CMYK, color, dahlov ipcar, flying eye books, lithographs, printing, remastering

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4. Kyle Bean

Posted by Jessica Holden

Kyle Bean

Kyle Bean

Kyle Bean

Kyle Bean

Kyle Bean

Kyle Bean graduated from the University of Brighton in 2009, he was spotted and commissioned by Liberty to create a window display.  He has a passion for crafts and conceptual thinking, using a variety of materials to solve the brief in clever and exciting ways. His clients include; Wallpaper, Selfridges, Google and Vogue to name a few.

To see more look at his website or follow him on twitter.

0 Comments on Kyle Bean as of 8/18/2014 5:09:00 AM
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5. Typographer & Font Designer Drew Melton

Ok, I’ll save you the spiel about how deeply I’ve fallen in love with typography and lettering, as that should be fairly obvious by now. Drew Melton‘s work essentially speaks for itself. His deeply expressive fonts and lettering demonstrate the importance of hand-drawing into the design process. Even in the sharpest, finalized versions of his work, you’ll a spontaneity that’s unmistakably fun and energetic.

Drew is an L.A.-based graphic designer and typographer who’s worked with clients like McCann, Nike, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Penguin Books. He’s had quite the interesting journey to success in the lettering realm, some of which is marked by serious self-reflection and the ability to remain humble.

One of the things that hurled him into the design spotlight was his Phraseology project, started with a few other designers and developers in 2011. Very similar to Erik Marinovich’sFriends of Type blog, Phraseology offers the public a chance to submit any word or phrase to be designed by members of the team. Soon enough, Drew was being commissioned for some big-time typography work by notable clients.

Unfortunately, with that exciting attention also came some consequences. As much as I admire Drew’s hand at lettering, I might be even more enamored with his grace and honesty about his past mistakes.

In January 2013, Drew bravely posted a public apology on his blog to several typographic designers, including Jessica Hische, Jon Contino, Dana Tanamachi, and Darren Booth, for drawing inspiration from their styles in ways that were not entirely “okay.” He spoke openly about his guilt and sadness at realizing that his creative process had been built too closely upon the examples of his heroes, and that his heroes were now upset with him.

The topic of creative originality is probably one of the most sensitive. It’s something that is constantly under debate and argued by strong opinions. I’m a strong believer that nothing is purely unique, especially in this day and age. It’s the nature of craft and evolution to build upon an existing idea. But in an age when visual information is so widely accessible, when an illustrator or designer can essentially educate themselves by opening their web browser–it’s up to the creative to draw the line between inspiration and imitation.

It’s a testament to Drew’s work ethic and passion for the art of typography that he was still able to gain success after this admission. Even while he struggled to define his style in the beginnings of his career, it’s clear that he’s succeeded.

Drew is now focusing on font development in addition to personal design and typography. Some of my favorite fonts of his are LastraHandsome, and Magnifique.

I highly recommend Drew’s interview with the Australian Graphic Supply Company (a previous Art Crush feature), as well as his feature (along with this wife, stylist and co-creative Kelsey Zahn) on Rverie. Follow along with Drew here:

Website Blog Twitter Dribbble

 

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6. Making the most of your sketchbooks

Elizabeth Caldwell

Being creatives we all get lost in the blank pages of our oh so faithful sketchbooks, before putting pen to paper we’re filled with anticipation of the ideas we have within our creative minds that are yet to spill across our page.  As they begin to fill with endless inky pieces of potential and piles of scribbled sketchbooks are formed over time they can often become lost sat within a draw of your studio out of sight. Although sometimes it’s breaking out those old books that can help you creatively in ways you don’t always quite realise. So here are a few reasons to brush the dust off your sketchbooks and reminisce a little in past potential you’ve made.

 

  1. They’re proof of how far you’ve come: Your sketchbooks are filled with your thoughts and scribbles and it’s these that also make them memories of your creative growth.  You might one day find yourself thinking “My illustration/design/painting/photography isn’t quite as detailed or good as these creatives” and sometimes we take for granted just how far we have come on our creative journey.  So look back on your own childhood, high school, college or university sketchbooks and see just how far you’ve come, just how hard you’ve worked and you may even surprise yourself with how talented you really are. In turn this is sure to boost your belief in yourself and blow your little inner critic away.

 

  1. Fruits for new inspiration : If at times you’re feeling lost for ideas or aren’t quite sure where to find your inspiration for a new and exciting project then flipping through the pages of your sketchbook might just help you find it. Sometimes we can forget where we found our fruit for ideas but in that little sketchbook may be a scribbled motif that can help you grow a collection of beautiful patterns, illustration for a book, painting and much more. Recycle your old ideas and make them into something amazing and new because your style and skills are forever growing it’s sure to look different than it did before.

 

  1. Rediscover old techniques:  I remember during college days we were encouraged to experiment as much as we could with a vast array of arty materials and techniques to expand on the potential of what we create. Combining watercolours, print making or markers with ink might have helped you to create a beautifully detailed project or give you a texture or effect you’re looking for. It’s little things like these that may just be the finishing element needed for an upcoming project or simply for you to try something a little different.

 

So it just goes to show how good your sketchbooks can be after all and gives you an even better reason to treasure them and not throw them away. Image by designer illustration  Elizabeth Caldwell you can find out more about her work here .

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7. The Fair Toxophilities and Daniel Deronda

By K. M. Newton


The painting The Fair Toxophilites: English Archers by W. P. Frith, dating from 1872, is one of a series representing contemporary life in England. Frith wrote that his”

“desire to discover materials for my work in modern life never leaves me … and, though I have occasionally been betrayed by my love into themes somewhat trifling and commonplace, the conviction that possessed me that I was speaking – or rather painting – the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, rendered the production of real-life pictures an unmixed delight. In obedience to this impulse I began work on a small work suggested by some lady-archers, whose feats had amused me at the seaside … The subject was trifling, and totally devoid of character interest; but the girls are true to nature, and the dresses will be a record of the female habiliments of the time.”

After Gwendolen Harleth’s encounter with Daniel Deronda in Leubronn in Chapters 1 and 2, there’s a flashback to Gwendolen’s life in the year leading up to that meeting, with Chapters 9 to 11 focusing on the Archery Meeting, where she first meets Henleigh Grandcourt, and its consequences. In the England of the past archery was the basis of military and political power, most famously enabling the English to defeat the French at Agincourt. In the later nineteenth century it is now a leisure pursuit for upper-class women. This may be seen as symptomatic of the decline or even decadence of the upper class since it is now associated with an activity which Frith suggests is “trifling and commonplace.” A related symptom of that decline is the devotion of aristocratic and upper-class men, such as Grandcourt and Sir Hugo Mallinger, to a life centred on hunting and shooting.

The Fair Toxophilites

The Frith painting shows a young female archer wearing a fashionable and no doubt extremely expensive dress and matching hat. This fits well with the novel for Gwendolen takes great care in her choice of a dress that will enhance her striking figure and make her stand out at the Archery Meeting, since “every one present must gaze at her” (p.  89), especially Grandcourt. The reader may similarly be inclined to gaze at the figure in the painting. One might say that together with her bow and arrow Gwendolen dresses to kill, an appropriate expression for arrows can kill though in her case she wishes only to kill Grandcourt metaphorically: “My arrow will pierce him before he has time for thought” (p. 78). Readers of the novel will discover that light-hearted thoughts about killing Grandcourt will take a more serious turn later.

With the coming of Grandcourt into the Wancester neighbourhood through renting Diplow Hall, the thoughts of young women and especially their mothers turn to thoughts of marriage – there is obvious literary allusion to the plot of Pride and Prejudice in which Mr Bingley’s renting of Netherfield Park creates a similar effect. The Archery Meeting is the counterpart to the ball in Pride and Prejudice since it is an opportunity for women to display themselves to the male gaze in order to attract eligible husbands and no man is more eligible than Grandcourt. Whereas Mr Darcy eventually turns out to be the perfect gentleman, in Eliot’s darker vision Grandcourt has degenerated into a sadist, “a remnant of a human being” (p. 340), as Deronda calls him. Though Gwendolen is contemptuous of the Archery Meeting as marriage-market, she cannot help being drawn into it as she believes at this point that ultimately a woman of her class, background, and upbringing has no viable alternative to marriage.

While Grandcourt’s moving into Diplow Hall together with his likely attendance of the Archery Meeting become the central talking points of the neighbourhood among Gwendolen and her circle, the narrator casually mentions another matter that is being ignored – “the results of the American war” (p. 74). Victory for the North in the Civil War established the United States as a single nation, one which would ultimately become a great power. There is a similar passing reference later to the Prussian victory over the Austrians at “the world-changing battle of Sadowa” (p. 523), a major step towards the emergence of a unified German nation. While the English upper class are living trivial lives the world is changing around them and Britain’s time as the dominant world power may be ending.

Though the eponymous Deronda does not feature in this part of the novel, he is in implicit contrast to Gwendolen and the upper-class characters as he is preoccupied with these larger issues and uninvolved in trivial activities like archery or hunting and finally commits himself to the ideal of creating a political identity for the Jews. When he tells Gwendolen near the end of the novel of his plans, she is at first uncomprehending but is forced to confront the existence and significance of great events that she previously had ignored through being preoccupied with such “trifling” matters as making an impression at the Archery Meeting: “… she felt herself reduced to a mere speck. There comes a terrible moment to many souls when the great movements of the world, the larger destinies of mankind … enter like an earthquake into their own lives — when the slow urgency of growing generations turns into the tread of an invading army or the dire clash of civil war” (p. 677). She will no longer be oblivious of something like “the American war.” By the end of the novel the reader looking at the painting on the front cover may realize that though this woman who resembles Gwendolen remains trapped in triviality and superficiality, the character created in the mind of the reader by the words of the novel has moved on from that image and undergone a fundamental alteration in consciousness.

 K. M. Newton is Professor Emeritus at the University of Dundee. He is the editor, with Graham Handley, of the new Oxford World’s Classics edition of Daniel Deronda by George Eliot.

For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. You can follow Oxford World’s Classics on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the OUPblog. Subscribe to only Oxford World’s Classics articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS.

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Image credit: The Fair Toxophilites by W. P. Frith. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The post The Fair Toxophilities and Daniel Deronda appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. His Terribleness invades Print Magazine

Just found out a logo/t-shirt thingy I designed/illustrated will be in Print magazine’s Regional Design Annual! The root beer shall be flowing tonight!




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9. The Australian Graphic Supply Collective: Tuts and Type

In my journey towards becoming somewhat of a graphic designer, I’ve gone through many bouts of chocolate-fueled rage, cursing when I can’t figure out how to line up my beziers correctly, or how exactly to create a seamless repeat pattern. Although there are loads of tutorials online, the Australia Graphic Supply Company is set to become the “square one” learning source for budding designers and typographers of all types (pun not intended).

Self-described “pixel-wranglers,” Dave and Laura Coleman are a husband-and-wife team working out of Sydney, Australia, focusing on a wide range of visual services from photography and branding to illustration and tattoo design. While Laura mostly manages operations & finances, Dave handles the creative side of their shared business–and both of them share a serious passion for design, photography and lettering.

They host a selection of their own client work on their website, but the primary focus is on their community and growing tutorial section. What’s neat to see is that their tutorial aesthetic matches up perfectly with that of their professional projects–the aim is clearly to give the viewer proper insight into the process of creating high-quality design and typography while simplifying the process down to layman’s terms.

One of my favorite tutorials was Creating a Hand-Lettered Logotype from Beginning to End–I’ve included some screenshots and a video below.

Dave and Laura were briefly living and working abroad in Oviedo, Spain, but are now in the process of returning to their home base in Sydney. To follow along with their adventures, check out their travel blog.

I’ve also included a couple links to my other favorite tutorials below:

No Pain, No Grain (How to Create a Seamless Vector Wood Grain Pattern)

So What’s the Big Deal with Horizontal & Vertical Bezier Handles Anyway?

I can’t wait for more exciting tutorials and developments from the AGSC. Thanks so much to Dave and Laura for sharing their knowledge with us! Follow along with them on theirwebsiteTwitter, and Pinterest.

0 Comments on The Australian Graphic Supply Collective: Tuts and Type as of 7/29/2014 3:10:00 PM
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10. Illustration and design concept for a chess app for iPad

For some reason, I've been really interested in user interface design (probably because I'm a graphic designer and I'm practically inseparable from my iPad). And when I run across an especially bad design in a app, I really get an itch to "fix" it. Problem is, the vast majority of them are poorly designed.

Chess games being no exception. Additionally, though, I thought the subject matter would lend itself to some pretty fun visuals and illustrations.







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11. Stop the Presses…and START HERE!

This may be the first book cover that actually teaches how to letterspell "A B C"  in American Sign Language!

This may be the first book cover that actually teaches how to letterspell “A B C” in American Sign Language! (click to enlarge)

Let’s start with unveiling the cover itself. It features a lenticular!

And it’s going on press this month! I’m so excited!

Why? Because it all began as a list of words on a spread sheet almost five years ago. Gallaudet University Press lined up a team of illustrators for their upcoming definitive American Sign Language reference (think Merriam-Webster, but for signing), aimed at the pre-school through grade 3 level. It had to be usable for hearing families as well as the deaf and hearing-impaired.

Page 1 from the Dictionary

Page 1 from the Dictionary

 

One of the illustrators already on board was Debbie Tilley. When agent Richard Salzman discovered it was (a) Gallaudet first foray into children’s books and general trade; and (b) they expected Debbie to produce the layouts too, he recommended they contact me to pull it all together for them. It was a dream project for all of us!

Dictionary_p-105_Page_011   Dictionary_p-105_Page_008 Dictionary_p-105_Page_007

 392 pages of full color! It looks like a graphic comic, with over 1,000 word entries, fully illustrated. Plus it includes a DVD featuring a rainbow of children signing. There’s also a special feature on forming sentences.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll guide you on the process. It will be like a diary on the making of a children’s reference classic. . .

Spread from pages 238-239

Spread from pages 238-239 (click to enlarge)

You will witness exclusive behind-the-scenes book making. Stay tuned. That’s why I’ve been away for so long. Been dictionary-ing…

 


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12. Everything You Need for a Celebration

MimiIt’s been a busy few weeks around here. I’m still trying to figure out where the summer part of summer is!

But.

It’s all been fantastic things.

I taught a Photoshop and Graphic Design to kids in a Summer Session up at my school, and it was so much fun. Exhausting and crazy-making, but it was awesome to spend a couple weeks with kids who were creative, fearless, and super engaged.

That graphic at the top?

A fifth grader’s. She’d opened Photoshop for the first time in her life about twenty minutes earlier. OBIEWe studied Brian Won’s work (and his process post here!) for texture and shape, and I made them this guy as an example. He’s kinda cute, right?photo 3If you don’t know who these guys are, you’ve got to check out a student film (I think?) of Jon Klassen’s, An Eye for an Annai. The kid who made this said it if it had been a book it would be her very favorite of all time.

(My students dropping hyperbole on the glory of stories?! Are you shocked?!)

And for those story-crazed students and their story-crazed librarian, a huge expansion is in the works. I’ve always had the greatest job in the school, but now I’m going to have the most gorgeous spot in which to do it. Lucky.photo 1And ALA!

A few weeks ago, one of the highlights of my weekend was meeting my editor. Cause this book I wrote is happening, and I’m still pinching myself to make sure this is real life. Taylor is the most kismet-y match for this book, and I can’t wait to bring this thing into the world with her. treehousepressSUPER SQUEAL. I know.

And then somewhere along the way this blog picked up over 10,000 followers. Ten thousand! That’s a huge, humbling number, and I’m so so grateful for each of you.

So I looked up my top ten posts, and I’d like to give away these ten books. You made them popular, so perhaps you’d like one of your own?!

Pantone Colors

Bruno Munari’s ABC

I Want My Hat Back

Symphony City

Flora and the Flamingo

The Lion and the Mouse

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

Iggy Peck, Architect

Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth

                                                           Hello, Mr. HulotbreakerAlso, I’m going to buy these books at Once Upon a Time in Montrose, CA. I love that bookstore anyway, but when they tweet you things like this:

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 7.15.43 PM  … I’d pretty much like to buy one of everything from them forever and ever.

All you have to do is leave a comment here by Monday, July 28th at midnight PST. And if you tweet this link so more people can play, I’ll give you an extra entry.

To books, to art, and to making lots more!

(Note: I can only open this giveaway to the US and Canada, so if you are farther flung than that, I send my love to you anyway! Thank you so much for spending time here with me.)

ch

PS: If you’re commenting for the first time, I’ll manually approve it. Don’t panic if it doesn’t show up right away. Thank you!

 


Tagged: brian won, chronicle, giveaway, graphic design, jon klassen, photoshop

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13. Designer and Typographer Kelly Thorn.

In writing these Art Crush posts, I’ve found that I’m usually late to the party. Meaning, of course, that literally everyone else has known about these illustrators already before I stumbled across their work, since I’m probably an unhip grandma. But in this case, I’m kind of excited–Kelly Thorn is an up-and-coming junior designer at Louise Fili Ltd. and generally amazing typographer and illustrator, and she’s already blossoming on the scene.

I stumbled upon Kelly Thorn’s work by way of Friends of Type, a “typography sketchbook” of sorts started by Erik Marinovich and a few of his illo-designer buddies. Kelly’s command of linework and her gorgeous color choices immediately drew me in. Her pieces demonstrate a solid understanding of design and composition, but still leave room for illustrative experimentation and expression. Lovely.

A 2012 graduate of Tyler School of Art’s Graphic & Interactive Design program, Kelly now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.


[collaboration with Dana Tanamachi for Nibblr]

You can follow along with Kelly on her websiteTwitterDribbble, & Tumblr. I can’t wait to see more of her work.

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14. Brian Stauffer: a conceptual take on social issues

Posted by Heather Ryerson

Brian Stauffer

Brian Stauffer

Brian Stauffer

Brian Stauffer

Brian Stauffer

Brian Stauffer uses a combination of sketching, painting, and digital collage to create editorial illustrations. Much of his work graces the pages of news and political publications like The New York Times, TIME, The New Yorker, The Nation, and Rolling Stone. His thought-provoking illustrations illuminate social issues and set the proper tone for their accompanying articles. Stauffer’s work would not be out of place at a vintage propaganda poster gallery, but can be found instead at notable art museums and institutes.

Discover his large body of work on his website.

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15. Dealing with your inner creative expectations

Stephanie Ryan  |  *I Believe in Me*, Mixed Media Watercolor Illustration of Bird with Flowers (Print).

 

Following the creative path to live a creative life isn’t always an easy instant road to success.  You’re going to put in the effort and hard work so you’ll no doubt get there but like any journey there will be challenges to face and obstacles to overcome to become who you want to be.  Whether you’re a current art student at college, just graduated from university or are bettering your creative practice in your own time with the aspiration of running your own business there’s one teeny tiny obstacle we all have niggling away inside called “expectations”.

Expectations can be anything from aims you set to accomplishments and standards you may put on yourself or those that people around you may have of you themselves but today I’m going to cover self expectations.  Having expectations in general isn’t a bad thing as they give you points to work on and creative insight into ways you’d like to grow.

However sometimes when we set such high aims to reach and aspiring results to follow, when we fall short it can really knock us down and sometimes make you second guess what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. You may find yourself questioning whether you did something right, whether your skills are at their best , if you met the brief you were set and whether you can be as good as the next guy the list goes on and you’re not alone in thinking so.

 However amongst all this expectation you also need to be your biggest motivator and you need to brush yourself off and tell yourselfBelieve you can and you will achieve all you set out to”.  I believe you can achieve anything if you put the effort and the hard work into all that you do, although one thing you must truly believe in is yourself.  Remember these few things when you feel your inner expectations are clouding your creative motivation;

1. Your work is surely to be at its best when you are as well. 

2. Everyone’s story and journey is different don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.

3.  A success is to be perceived through your own eyes, however if you don’t try you’ll never know how far you could have gone. 

Featured image created by designer Stephanie Ryan and you can find out more about her and her beautiful designs “here” .

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16. Illustrator and Cartoonist Jillian Tamaki

Sometimes, you get stuck at a crossroads between two things you really love doing. For me, it’s being an illustrator and a musician. Years ago, I thought that I’d eventually have to drop one to wholeheartedly pursue the other. I was never able to decide what I loved more, because although different in myriad ways, my love for playing/creating music and my love for creating art are completely equal in nature.

Jillian Tamaki is a bit of a kindred spirit in this sense, although hers is a tug-of-war between illustration and cartooning. She’s been able to integrate both of these passions into an impressive creative career, having released two graphic novels with her cousin Mariko Tamaki and two books of personal work on her own–not to mention the plethora of illustration awards she’s achieved. Her ever-growing client list includes the likes of The New York Times, National Geographic, Penguin Books, The New Yorker, and WIRED.

Jillian grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and went on to study illustration at the Alberta College of Art & Design. While she originally intended to focus on design, she fell in love with illustration and began freelancing after a brief stint at Bioware, a Canada-based video game company. She works both digitally and physically, showcasing her general badass brushwork and drafting skills in addition to embroidery (!!!).

Her creative process is impressively flexible, shifting between rapid-fire deadlines and long-term projects.

This One Summer and Skim, while not necessarily limited to the teen reading section, exemplify the Tamaki cousins’ wish to expose more nuanced examples of teenage girls in literature (“not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth”) and graphic novels/comics. They don’t shy away from the heavy stuff–sexual identity, suicide, being a general loner. And perhaps there’s no better way to tell the stories of these painful experiences than through Jillian Tamaki’s gorgeous, expressive linework. Skim went on to win The New York Times’ award for Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2008.

Jillian’s exuberant, sarcastic personality is only complemented by her genuine desire to help others, especially in the creative community. She’s provided a wealth of advice on her website in the FAQ section, and also welcomes questions on her blog.

You can follow along with her at her websiteTwitterblog, and Tumblr. She also runs a webcomic at Mutant Magic, which will soon be published by Drawn & Quarterly in 2015. Jillian also teaches illustration at School of Visual Arts.

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17. Poster Design for Pair

Poster design for Pair Food & Wine seattle restaurant. Illustration by Christine Marie Larsen

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18. Catherine Lepage: Simple, clever editorial illustration

Posted by Heather Ryerson

Catherine Lepage

Catherine Lepage

Catherine Lepage

Catherine Lepage

Catherine Lepage

After studying graphic design and illustration, Catherine Lepage worked at an ad agency where she brainstormed quick and clever ideas and developed an efficient process of creating simple design solutions. She went on to co-found Montreal design studio Ping Pong Ping where she weaves illustration throughout her client work. Catherine Lepage continues to work as an editorial illustrator. See more of her work on her website.

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19. Behind the Scenes with Tom Lichtenheld

ThisIsAMooseRemember Moose and his motley crew? He’s hard to forget with that superhuman (supermoosian?) determination and antlers tuned toward mischief. Let me turn the reigns over to Tom Lichtenheld himself, so he can give you a look at his process, sketches, and creative problem solving. It’s a fascinating look at how an illustrator responds to an author’s manuscript, and a glimpse at the evolution of a picture book.

Welcome back, Tom!breakerThis is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom LichtenheldWhen I receive a manuscript and like it, the first thing I do is start doodling. That initial moment of inspiration only comes once, so I try to capture the first images that pop into my head.This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom LichtenheldThis is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom LichtenheldThen I start refining and exploring options.This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom LichtenheldThis is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom LichtenheldThe director was initially a raccoon, but a duck felt more manic.This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom LichtenheldI spent a lot of time on film sets during my career in advertising, so I know it’s a lot of hurry-up-and-wait.This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom LichtenheldNo, giraffe don’t live in the woods, but I like to draw them, so a giraffe it is.This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom LichtenheldThis is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom LichtenheldThis is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom LichtenheldThis is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom LichtenheldLots of gags get left on the cutting-room floor, but it’s all part of the process.This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom LichtenheldBoom!This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom LichtenheldAn idea revealing that the movie was actually made, which makes no sense.This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom LichtenheldFirst crack at a title page. This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom Lichtenheld(click to enlarge)

First version of the opening scene. The narrator was a monkey, and part of the scene. We quickly realized that the director had to be “off-camera” until the end.This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom LichtenheldFirst version of the spread where Director Duck realizes none of the animals are playing by the rules. I liked the simplicity of having only his eyes move, but it was a bit too subtle, so I changed it to his entire head looking from side to side.This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom Lichtenheld(click to enlarge)

The Moosenest 

Turning this marvelously manic manuscript into a logical sequence of pictures required complete immersion, so I made a foamcore enclosure around my desk, with only Moose material within my sight lines, and dubbed it The Moosenest. It sounds like a joke, but there’s a point in sketching out a book where you need to have the entire book suspended in your mind at once, so you can mentally move the pieces around without losing sight of any elements. It’s challenging, but one of my favorite parts of the process and I don’t think I could have done it for This Is A Moose without The Moosenest.

breakerA marvelously manic manuscript with mayhem in the pictures. Thanks for letting us in to The Moosenest, Tom!

(I love that moose-like alien. I’m glad he got his day here.)

ch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tagged: composition, little brown, process, richard t. morris, sketches, this is a moose, thumbnails, tom lichtenheld

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20. Early Theme Adopters: Pictorico

Launched last month, Pictorico is a free theme that combines a dynamic portfolio-style home page with a simple, single-column layout for posts and pages. It’s great for pro photographers, casual photobloggers, and anyone who wants a sleek space for personal blogging.

Let’s take a look at a few sites using Pictorico:

A Feast for the Eyes

British blogger Issy shares recipes at A Feast for the Eyes, a name that perfectly captures the focus of the site: food and photography. Pictorico‘s front-page grid displays her mix of dishes beautifully — her images are crisp and bold, while her plate setups are stylish and carefully considered.

Issy sets featured images on individual posts, adding color and sophistication to the header area. She also takes advantage of the theme’s clean, single-column layout, letting her images shine on the page:

Ubuntu

The traveler and outdoor enthusiast at Ubuntu sets a wide custom header image, which changes the homepage look of Pictorico. The panorama of snowy, jagged peaks is the first thing you see, and captures the blogger’s wandering, adventurous spirit. Pictorico‘s custom header area accommodates images of at least 1180 pixels wide, so the visual effect is dramatic.

Shine Studios

New Zealand-based photographer Blair Quax of Shine Studios uses Pictorico to publish his wedding photography, much of which captures the beauty of Waiheke Island. The front-page portfolio design of Pictorico allows Blair to showcase distinct wedding day collections at a glance. Single post layouts are elegant and uncluttered, so the focus is entirely on the couples celebrating their special days.

Blair activates the theme’s post slider as well, which adds another layer to the front page:

More Pictorico examples

Visit the Pictorico page for details, other examples, and to preview or activate the theme.


Filed under: Community, Design, Themes, WordPress.com

10 Comments on Early Theme Adopters: Pictorico, last added: 6/20/2014
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21. Illustrator and Hand-Letterer: Mary Kate McDevitt

hunker down with me

e

wicked sweet tooth

make

Mary Kate McDevitt is one of the most successful hand-letterers and illustrators working today. A graduate of Tyler School of Art, Mary went on to work at a design studio in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After 2 years, she moved out west to pursue a freelance illustration and design career in Portland, Oregon before ultimately settling in Brooklyn, New York, which is where she presently resides. While she previously imagined that she would work as an illustrator, dabbling in some lettering on the side–but it turned out to be quite the opposite. Her ever-growing client list includes Chronicle Books, CMYK Magazine, Fast Company, and the United States Postal Service.

LittleBookofLettering_Cover-01

WindowToTheSkull_01

She is specifically inspired by vintage type and techniques, including the ones of her own family. As a teenager, she discovered a plethora of handwritten letters that her mother and aunt wrote to her grandmother during college. She used this inspiration for her Your Handwritten Letters project, a daily hand-lettering exercise. Mary would hand-draw a letter of the alphabet and mail the original to a unique participant each day.

w

You can follow along with Mary Kate McDevitt on her websiteblogInstagramDribbble, and can also purchase prints through her Etsy shop. She also has two online classes on Skillshare that can be found here and here

 

 

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22. Paul Thurby: mid-century-inspired illustration

Paul Thurby

Paul Thurby

Paul Thurby

Paul Thurby

Paul Thurby

Paul Thurby is a British designer and illustrator who takes inspiration from mid-century design and charity shop finds. He has worked with an impressive list of clients including The New Yorker, The Guardian, and Tate Enterprises. His clever, fun, and whimsical Alphabet and Number series can be found in many art and design shops around the UK. Paul Thurby’s Alphabet book has been published in the UK, US, and Australia. See more of his work on his website.

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23. Books by design

By Maggie Belnap


Despite the old saying, a book’s cover is perhaps the strongest factor in why we pick up a book off the shelf or pause during our online web shopping. Of course, we all like to think that we are above such a judgmental mentality, but the truth is that a cover design can make — or break — a book’s fortunes.

Brady McNamara, Senior Designer at Oxford University Press, admitted that designing book covers isn’t as easy as one might think.

“To create a book jacket,” McNamara explained, “You have to first understand book’s concept. I have about 75 books at a time to design jackets for. That’s just too much. To help, I have about 10-12 really great freelance designers who really know what OUP is all about.” He continued, “I also always try one or two new freelancers each go around. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. That’s kind of what happened to Dog Whistle Politics.”

Ian Haney Lopez’s book, examining how politicians use veiled racial appeals to persuade white voters to support policies that favor the rich and threaten the middle class, is a difficult concept to capture. “It was a particularly tough cover to design: the subject just doesn’t lend itself to one concrete image,” McNamara agreed. He and his freelancer toiled over numerous cover drafts.

Dog Whistle Politics Design 1:

McNamara: “This is the initial sketches shown by our freelancer, I really liked [the] 1950’s clip art man. It had a kitchiness and style typical to ‘the conservative establishment.’ However, the cover review panel (editor and marketing manager) thought the starburst frame seemed out of place, like vintage advertising.”

First desing - Dog Whistle politics

Dog Whistle Politics Design 2:

McNamara: “In another sketch, the designer used a black background and surrounded our clip art guy with symbols of the economy and arrows illustrating its downfall. It was arbitrary and yet too obvious; just didn’t feel right.”

Design two - Dog Whistle Politics

Dog Whistle Politics Design 3:

McNamara: “[The] editor suggested that an actual image of a dog could work. The sketch was submitted but not shown. I made a personal call that it was too gimmicky and distractingly odd. It was weird, and a not funny weird.”

Design three - Dog Whistle Politics

Dog Whistle Politics Design 4:

“I finally took the design on myself,” says McNamara, laughing slightly as he remembers the process. “I had a pretty good idea of what we needed by now. It really wasn’t the freelancer’s fault, again, it’s just one of those books that is tough to design for. I tried an image of a bull dog and after the author mentioned a dog whistle, I incorporated that into the title. Nothing more literal I guess. The bulldog turned out to be too cute.”

Design Four - Dog Whistle Politics

Dog Whistle Politics Design 5:

McNamara: “I tried a more menacing Doberman in black and white—ears pricked up as if hearing the whistle. I also brought a serious tone back to the design by using just red, gray, and black type. This was finally approved. Not the most esoteric design, but it stands out on the shelf – if only for those pointy ears.”

Final Design - Dog Whistle Politics

While McNamara struggled with the concept for Dog Whistle Politics, design is a collaborative process.

James Cook, an Oxford University Press editor, discussed the pressing dilemmas of the design process: “I know the book best and worked with it the longest, so I understand the themes and perhaps have some ideas about how they can be illustrated.” He serves as a translator to the designer from the book itself and the author. “I talk with the author and try to relay his or her wishes to the designer, while also making sure the book and title are being represented. A cover needs to align, interpret, and reflect the books themes accurately, while also being attractive to a buyer.”

One of his titles, Coming Up Short, a book that sheds light on what it really means to be a working class young adult with all its economic insecurity and deepening inequality, also went through a number of cover jackets before finding the right fit.

Coming Up Short Design 1:

“One of the first designs was a girl in a skirt, sitting on a swing in the park,” remembers Cook. “It certainly portrayed what we wanted, but also had a sexual predator vibe as well.”

“I didn’t have a good feeling about the first cover I saw,” the author Jennifer Silva confessed. “I thought it had a kind of Lolita vibe when mixed with the title of the book. I expressed my concern, and it turned out that others at Oxford agreed.”

Swing design - Coming Up Short

“Jen was great to work with,” Cook acknowledged. “Sometimes it becomes difficult going back and forth trying to satisfy everyone’s wishes while also finding a good portrayal of the book. Sometimes authors just don’t want certain colors or schemes in the cover, and it’s my job to make sure they are heard.”

Coming Up Short Design 2:

After several other drafts, everyone agreed on a jacket: saturated yellow with multiple ladders.

“I love it,” raved Silva. “It feels young, modern, and hip. It’s not too literal, and also looks great on a bookshelf.” When asked about if the experience of jacket designing was frustrating or stressful, Jen waves the issue away saying, “No, it was fun to go back and forth!”

Final Design - Coming Up Short

Not all books are as design-intensive as Dog Whistle Politics and Coming Up Short. Cook says, “Some academic books are easy because you can follow a certain style that is well known and easily recognized as being a textbook.”

However, there are always a few books along the way that keep designers and editors nimble.

Maggie Belnap is a Social Media Intern at Oxford University Press. She attends Amherst College.

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24. Pretty shiny things: creating a book cover

Like all proper book nerds, I have a stash of books on my shelf that I’ve bought but haven’t got around to reading. No matter how many times I’ve told myself that there will be no new additions until the spine on ever last unread book has been cracked, the lure of shiny new books, with beautiful covers, is just too tempting. Who hasn’t picked a book up in a bookstore or library just because it has a stand-out cover? Something that catches your eye amid a sea of other rectangular paper objects, that you must have in your hand right now because OMG – THE COVER!

Ever wondered how a book cover comes into being? Who decides what a book will look like? This might surprise you, but usually, it’s not the author. Publishing houses have teams of very clever people who’s job it is to give your naked book the perfect outfit; to take all your words and package them in something that’s going to make it jump off the shelf screaming YOU MUST PICK ME UP AND READ ME!

Generally, this is what happens:

At some stage during the editing process – sometimes very early on – the very clever publishing team will have a chat about the direction that they think the cover should go. They’ll look at other books on the market in similar genres, and will brainstorm ideas, looking at the ‘mood’ that they want the cover to invoke. They’ll research type treatments and images that they think say something about the story. They’ll put all these ideas together into something called a cover brief, and will send this off to a designer or illustrator, along with either the text of the book, or a synopsis of the story. The designer has the very fun job of taking all those ideas and thoughts and instructions in the cover brief, and, using their own expertise, sending back some rough ideas with their own creative spin.

Cover roughs might look something like this:

Cinnamon Girl CVR directions 1

[For the month of June, I will be writer-in-resident at the fab Inside a Dog - you can read the rest of this post here]


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25. Illustrator & Creative Director Anna Bond

In the midst of a world grounded in digital technology, sometimes we need a reminder that good things can still be grounded in reality. This is why we still go visit galleries and museums to see artwork in person (a habit I’m still trying to get better at). This is why we still give each other greeting cards, or why our desks seem to collect countless post-its over time. It can be as simple as opening a letter or unwrapping a present–interacting with real material still matters. 

On that note, I’d like to introduce you to Anna Bond, owner and creative director of Rifle Paper Co.–an inimitable force in the stationery field and beyond.

While Anna now lives and works in Winter Park, Florida, she has roots in New Jersey and received a degree in graphic design in Virginia. After working as an art director and freelance illustrator for a couple years, she discovered (or rekindled, rather) her love for stationery design while illustrating some wedding invitations. As mentioned in her feature on The Every Girl, stationery was the optimal combination of graphic design and illustration that she had been searching for, and so she pushed onwards.

While there’s something to be said for art directing at 21, I admire Anna’s honest and expressive way of dealing with her expectations, realities, and how to improve upon them. She’s spoken before about the first launch of Rifle Paper Co.’s website, detailing product disasters, website crashes, international shipping issues, and taking turns panicking with her husband. Without sounding cruel or spiteful, it’s incredibly comforting to know that someone as ambitious and driven as Anna has screwed up before. And to me, there’s no better way to recover than by succeeding.

Nearly all Rifle Paper Co. products feature Anna’s hand-painted illustrations, which are often nostalgic in style with a pastel palette.

Some of Rifle Paper Co.’s selected clients and collaborative partners: Anthropologie (their very first!), Kate Spade New York, Hygge & West, Chronicle Books, AMC Mad Men, and Penguin Books. I think it’s important to note that the variety of clients reflects Anna’s ability to design for both traditional and modern brands, which can be difficult depending on one’s personal style.

Follow along with Anna and her husband Nathan’s exciting ventures at Rifle Paper Co.’s website, and take a peek at Anna’s portfolio here. You can also find her on Twitter. I particularly enjoyed her Day in the Life feature on Design*Sponge as well.

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