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.
There is more than one way to tell a story. I explored a few possibilities and this is the outcome…
Oliver Jeffers, an extremely successful and acclaimed author/illustrator who has proven that a label is just that and that the artificial divide between fine art and illustration can be blurred.
In his monograph of his figurative oil paintings and installation in the book Neither here nor there, he displays a different side of his character and talent. Although he had exhibited in New York, Dublin, Sydney, some of his paintings previously, it is the first time that most of his work is shown to the public. Jeffers is intrigued by the world around him and has a great sense of humour.
The same applies in his picture books. His style differs. Besides I don’t think it is an artist who would like to be classified. He likes to think of himself as somebody ‘who makes art.’ In picture books, his style is minimalist. His characters are never described in words and their facial expressions are almost non existent apart for a prominent nose for the boy who appears in the series of fantastical quests in How to catch a star, Lost and Found, The way back home and Up and down. Another characteristic is his footless legs and most importantly his body language and the way he is placed in a gigantic landscape to show his emotions, his loneliness and his quest of a friend. They are universal themes but still Jeffers never preaches. He thinks ‘children are smarter than we give them credit for’ and ‘I totally avoid forced content, thinly veiled morals, anything preachy or funny for the sake of it.’
I particularly admire the layout and the use of negative space, that helps putting emphasis on the hero’s emotions. In his picture books, less is definitely more but it takes a real gift to know which best moment to depict to capture the tension at a certain point of a story. Being an author and an illustrator probably gives an advantage that you can choose to draw instead of saying it or vice versa. The key is to get it right.
I also love the fact that the characters; actions are anchored in reality: they stop to have lunch or have a bath. Any child will relate to this and it will make the characters even more loveable and the quest even more possible.
His books are magical even for an adult. I can’t wait to see what comes next out of this multimedia artist.
For the third week in (almost half way of stage 1) this is the long awaited VisComm rotation!
The brief is deceivingly simple: turning an article from a newspaper into a book. I initially had chosen a long article about the role of the wives of nazi officers during WWII as I have a fascination verging on obsession of this dark period in history. The article was long and identified too many points to be summarised effectively by me, that is, in a book format. Inested I selected a much shorter news item on wearable and more specifically Galaxy Gear, the geeky watch developed by Samsung. I ran into the opposite problem of having a derogatory article about a product I knew very little about. I therefore had to research the industry and foun it mind blowing. Therefore I decided to stick to this theme, run with it and be totally out of my comfort zone.
The first session was spent on examples of typography and meaning. There is so much more than initially thought but one needs to be astute in cases. The second session was spent on developing images with collage and mixed media, which I love doing.
I came home wanted to get stuck in straight away. I had so many ideas but the basic challenge was this: do I keep the design sleek and modern as technology is sleek itself? Or do I make it as crazy and colourful since technological wear is gimmicky at times.
I could oppose font such as Helvetica to a very colourful background and mixed media, perhaps. Secondly, what format should my book be?a hotdog? A concertina. The sculpture of a phone?
not sure yet. What I know though is the title. Tick Tock Tech!