Final project: Final thoughts


Installed at last!

This is it! Here’s my display for the exhibition installed at last! Less is more…

I had planned to display the other two pieces: the book carved into a box filled with Max and Misty’s Did you know? cards and objects memorabilia as well as the wordless tunnel book. All three books have the same narrative in a different format.This is this aspect that fascinated me and I sought to explore.

However, after having a conversation with my tutors, we decided that it may be distracting from the main book itself and its innovative format. (You have to flip the book over to read both sides of the story and the resolution is in the middle). Since the book’s ending has  a 3D element inside it in the form of a pop up, I didn’t mind too much. Instead, they recommended I showcased the pop up but I chose not to. It is after all the resolution of the book and readers don’t start a book by its ending. So I will let the visitor pick the bookt up (with white cotton gloves please) and discover the surprise inside it.

Creating the book has been a roller coaster. I had to wear so many hats: author, illustrator, graphic designer, bookbinder, printer and all that with some non existent skills.

I had to learn: handling watercolour since I usually paint with oils and acrylics – manipulating my artwork in Photoshop: very different from playing with special effects.  I especially had to master how to hide blemishes and enhance colour so that it looks good and real and still hand painted. I am very pleased to have retained this element. It was crucial for me.

I had to discover InDesign for the layout of my book from scratch.  I have definitely only scratched the surface here.

I had to think about typeface and created my own. And even though it looks amateurish I am  particularly pleased with the tile  because it is mine and it enhances the meaning of the book.

I had to learn how to bind a book and needless to say I am very unskilled with a needle. Preparation (flattening your signatures before hand) and preparation are key.  In the end, I had to give up the idea of the hard cover. Having hard a conversation with a book maker expert, the artist in residence, Richard Nash, I agreed that the cover would look thicker than the book itself. It would have looked ridiculous. He suggested a coptc stitching but I failed to deliver. In the end I applied a basic stitching giving it my own twist to make it look pleasing to the eye.  I also decided on a book jacket having had to include the cover in one of my signatures to have a multiple of 4.  You live and learn, don’t you.

The most interesting aspect was the interplay between text and image. Not so much what you say but what you leave out – not so much what you show but what you leave out. It is wonderful to write and draw, you have the ability to choose the best medium for a scene. At every time, I kept my audience in mind. And although I wanted the story to be accessible I didn’t want to do all the work for them. If not what is the point of reading?

I very much enjoyed all the research about visual storytelling, child development, child psychology, and reading about semiotics. I also tried to cover the cultural aspects by researching the distribution of picture books. Children in the world are not all equal and in underdeveloped countries books are not an accessible commodity. Similarly we  get to see work by a few talented artists only. Distribution of picture books is very pricey.

I also touched on the development of publishing and expressed my concern about the trend of epublishing  It has a place but it is too soon to assess the impact it has on children’s literature and its audience. I personally feel that at young age, holding a tangible object and sharing a moment with a special person enhances a child’s experience. Opening a book is entering a magic world that will hopefully resonate with you for a very long time.

Finally I wanted to bring to the fore that there is not just one format for books.  Books can be sculptural and many artists have demonstrated the truly amazing possibility of paper as a medium. Creating the pop up was extremely challenging and at times I didn’t think I would succeed. I am planning to also explore book arts a lot more from now on.

I wish I had more time..I will revisit my project and very likely take it apart to start all over again! I will take my time and get it right.

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Final Project: Book Layout and Typeface

Now that the story has been written and the final artwork has been completed, I have the task to scan everything and find out whether all the careful planning is coming to fruition. For this I am using inDesign….for the very first time!

The objective will be twofold: to place the artwork in 5 signatures and type the text with the type font I selected as well as making the most use of what inDesign has to offer to make my text curve, climb, skip …just as my characters are doing. From inception I very much wanted to treat the text as illustration in the same manner as Sara Fanelli or Lauren Child. Art and text are there to complement each other in meaning but also aesthetically.

I also intended on the text mirroring the mood and emotions through scale and spacing. If I had kept to Microsoft Word, I would have had to make do with fewer possibilities and this is why despite the tight deadline, I have endeavoured to tackle a new software. Again, I apply the same process as for the whole book where less is more. I was careful not to overdo it so that the meaning does not get lost in the multitudes of effects. For most part, the text remained straight and sat above or below an image. The text curled and swirled only when necessary: a change of pace, a turning point in the story.

I also made the decision to have two fonts: one for each character since both stories are read from each point of view. It is not distracting but it adds another layer and I hope that the font will further illustrate each character’s personality: Max is more bouncy and Misty is calmer.  Another crucial decision was to leave the font black. I had thought f colour coding it as Max’s things are blue and Misty’s are red but after careful consideration, I thought it would have been overkill and would have defeated the object. Instead, I colour coded the tile and created Max’ name in bones and Misty’s in fishbones. It took a few attempts to get the right size and the spacing regular. And even when I thought that I had achieved this in the lightbox, I hadn’t completely once I had painted over with blue and red watercolour paint. I therefore had to clean the blemishes in Photoshop.  I had a basic knowledge of the latter software but now I have leant a whole new set of tools. For example, the clone stamp has proved particularly useful for importing an image over a background whereas the rubber even the soft rubber left some soft edges. I intend to carry on learning more techniques on Photoshop and inDesign before tackling Illustrator once the course is over.

Overall I am pleased with the result and my learning curve but it is far from perfect. But with more time, it would have become easier and quicker to move from tool to tool proficiently and to gauge effectively what worked or not instead of having to print even spread to check it out. I intend to carry on working on the book to improve it further.



Zine: Dialogue

   photo                           photo 1

According to the dictionary, a zine is an inexpensively produced, self-published, underground publication. This is the first project and the theme is Dialogue.

I called my zine Between Us as I chose to write about my twin sister Fabienne.  I am close to her and I thought it would be easy to interview her and develop a zine.  How wrong could I be? The more you know somebody, the more difficult it is to remain objective and not put words into their mouth. I had to stop myself from using my former skills as a journalist and from being too directive. I therefore ended up with a plethora of resources to go through and narrow down. Not easy.

The way we communicated was not always straight forward. Apart from  face to face, we emailed and called each other. She sent me all the resources I needed.  I wanted the zine to communicate the different means of communication and the fact that through emails I got more out of her than I did face to face when we just chatted about this and that sipping wine. I pixellated a few images to reflect this. I think because she loves words and writing, typing away made it easier. She had time to reflect and give me a true but never glorified version.

photo_2              photo 3

I used charcoal and acrylics,  Photoshop, collage and monoprinting.  I love mixed media as it enables to express various things in the medium that is most suitable for it.  I also love exploring and learning all the time. I found monoprinting fun but messy and I ended up using just one image out of the exploration.  Not a great result.  But I loved it even so.

The practitioners that inspired me for the zine are Barbara Kruger for the strong and don’t-argue-with-me message.  I used it when Fabienne talked about individuality and how important it is to remain to true to yourself.

What we discussed is the emphasis she puts on individuality and the need to be yourself even if you don’t fit

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I also chose to carry on with the black and red colour theme throughout the zine.  Kruger uses primarily two fonts Futura and Helvetica. For the zine, I experimented with many but also decided to limit myself to two: Futura and Handwriting Dakota but using the lightbox to give it a more handmade look.

As I said words and speaking well are essential to her.  She took part to amateur acting and I used all the part of the interview to express it in her own words. She is a shy and reserved person never speaking out of turn and never offensive. Acting was a way of combatting this trait and to also discover a brand new world without masks. She was very successful at it. Here I used my own imagery and also looked into Lichtentein’s for a Wow or a Pow factor! The quotes on the page are the ones she chose and they are in english and french to highlight bilingualism. The words in red on the right hand page are her key words.

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The following page is my favourite. It is a contrast to the others.  It is almost bare. I liked the art of Jean Cocteau, Guillaume Apollinaire and Sara Fanelli and succeeded in amalgamating them to say something simple with a one liner slogan.

The image is printed on acetate. When you turn it to the other page, the text that forms the hair and face cannot be read and I feel it gives a mysterious feel to the person.  Fabienne can be secretive and I think this page is the best summary.  I loved playing with the font that decreases and slows down through the double spread.

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Finally the end double spread says life is a journey in four different languages that Fabienne speaks. The imagery suggests it is ongoing and invites to go along with it.

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Mira Schendel – Exhibition at Tate Modern.

Prior to the beginning of stage 2, I went to London to break away from books and sketchbooks and see art in the flesh. I went to Tate Modern and looked at the work of Mira Schendel (1919-1988) , whose work I had never heard of even though she was a prolific post-war artist from South America. Tate Modern has organizedthe first ever international full scale retrospective of her work and it was huge. It had about 250 works.

Mira Schendel with artwork

She was a painter, a poet, and a sculptor. A Jewish refugee from fascist Italy and born in Switzerland, she emigrated to Sao Paulo in the 1949. Her work is very diverse which makes it difficult to pigeonhole her. It also makes it more fascinating.  Schendel contributed to the development of Concrete and Neo-concrete art in Brazil during the 1960s, but she remained detached enough to develop a  distinct and unique body of work.

Her paintings are energetic. Their abstract nature and texture make them quite informal.  The paintings in the first rooms reminded me of Paul Klee (for whom I will post an entry later as his work is also exhibited at the Tate Modern) for the colours and the geometric shapes.

images-14   schmir0MiraSchendel1     Untitled 1963 by Mira Schendel 1919-1988

As we pursue our journey through the galleries, the work becomes more fragile. She sculpted with rice paper and drew on transparent paper where words are written in different languages. Sometimes they are philosophical quotes. Others just letters that seem floating in time and space. The effect is emphasised by the fact that the see-through sheets hang from the ceiling and twirl in front of you, giving the work an ever changing meaning.  Schendel wrote : “The back of transparency lies in front of you and the ‘other world’ turns out to be this one.” Reading about it, I then found out that phenomenology was at the source of her art –   in the idea of being and nothingness but I didn’t feel I needed to know this at the time to appreciate it.  Her work is multi layered.

Even weeks after, I can’t stop thinking about Schendel’s work. So powerful. so deep in meaning. The layout of letters puzzled me. What was intentional and what was totally spontaneous? Does it matter even? How can we really know what an artist intends at all times.  Her work is far reaching. For instance, by investigating  the chasm between  certainty and faith (she was brought up as a catholic although born Jewish). I sensed an artist  in search of her identity having been caught between religions, countries and cultures. I can relate to some of that. If I have time, I will definitely go back and ponder in the galleries some more.

images-16                    images-17 images-18 Unknown   Untitled, from the series Little Stubs 1973     Still Waves of Probability 1969

CD Cover

We were all divided into study groups and had to devise a CD cover and leaflet that captures the essence of every member of the group.

Using two colours was the only constraint apart from the format of 12 x 12 cm of course. When we brainstormed, it transpired that we all had different strengths and interests.

Two of us share a passion for words. I love linking text and image with an aim of having an open ended interpretation. One of us experiences a union of senses that can lead to artistic greatness. Kandinsky is said to have been an synaesthete too. The last member of the group is very meticulous and organised putting all of us into shape.  The two other members share an interest for 3D and more precisely anything to do with sewing and haberdashery.

I wanted the three of us to appear on the front cover like a POP group. When brainstorming the name, we all decided that what we had in common was the willingness to go back in time and start something new.  The name was chosen: Rewind. The second decision was red and black. The white background does not count as a colour so I made sure I used the negative space as well.

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After playing with various fonts and images and not being happy with the outcome, I decided to draw and write my own letters in two colours.  The letters turn to black from red as we move on with our lives. Our duplicated faces also turn colours.  The portrait itself is generic as I didn’t want to draw attention to our appearances but the process we are undergoing.

That week we also had a Photoshop induction which led me to experiment something new.  The images layout for the members was carefully planned for each of us.

For Lucy, it was sleek and organised neatly on the page.

For Laura, it was an explosion of senses.

For myself, it was all about a single image and word and the play on the duality of the paintbrush used for painting and writing.

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For the back I then decided to show ourselves in names in the rewind mechanism of the clock.  Again we turn from red to black with the passage of time.

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The last page emphasises the dynamics of rewind without text or image.  I tried to keep it more and more simple.

Overall I am very happy with the final product. The making was time consuming, battling with the printer and the photocopier to end with as sleek a cover as I could.  I learnt a lot from it in terms of design and using new tools.  I am confident that it will get easier every time.

Preparation for VisComm Pathway

No rest for the wicked. Even before the assessment I found the handout for the project called Dialogue that is to come next.

In preparation, we have to design an alphabet made out of objects and/or shapes ideally around one theme. I thought about the various possibilities and thought about food. But my fridge and cupboards were  a bit bare to come close to the clever designs of A-Z l had looked up on the internets.

Food-Alphabet     images-3

Besides thinking about food made me hungry and was not constructive at all. I had already experimented with nails, pins and elastics.  The letters looked unimaginative and samy.  Also it was extremely time consuming for a poor result.   Instead I decided to use what was very familiar to me on a daily basis: the items on my desk.

This is the outcome:


To say that it saved me time and that I took an easier route would be mistaken.  I really tried to use as many stationary items imaginatively and come up with new ideas for each letter, moving away from pens and pencils, to give a more pleasing and different look.  I was also careful to vary the colours especially for letters that were juxtaposed together. I am overall happy with the result.  I will keep on creating my own typeface as it is a lot of fun and can another dimension to a text and illustration.