And now, some anecdotes on how the covers for our second collection (Spring 2011) came to be.
Not much to tell about this one. The covers I design are generally conceived one of two ways: (1) Jackie or I or the both of us have an idea of what we want to see, and the art flows from that, or (2) I mess around with images, give up and go away to watch some Community, then come back and mess around with images some more, until lightning strikes.
This cover definitely falls under (1). For a reason that escapes me now, I wanted to try making a very physical-looking cover entirely in Photoshop. It has been pointed out to me a number of times that our visual style is incongruously throwback and “physical”, considering we work exclusively online and through ebooks. We’re not purposely trying to be ironic, but I won’t blame anyone for thinking we are.
Psalm 77 (Jack Bootle)
The setting of the story is particularly evocative, so it was pretty much a no-brainer that the landscape would figure in the cover somehow. Jack did a fantastic job of helping me visualize it, as evidenced by this snippet of email from him:
The beach in the story isn’t based on a specific beach, so unfortunately I don’t have any photos. But I guess I had in mind the kind of long sandy beaches you get on the northeast coast of England, where I used to go on holiday as a kid. They’re quite wild and empty, with these dunes that are held together with rough brown grass … I guess images that speak to the essence of the story would be … hmmm, this is a cool exercise … the sea, deep water, sand dunes, rough grass, a big empty sky …
That would’ve been more than enough for a really enterprising designer to go on, but this is me we’re talking about, so of course I couldn’t get past “unfortunately I don’t have any photos”. Google image search turned up some frustratingly lovely images – frustrating because none were public domain, and therefore useless for anything but inspiration and desktop wallpapers.
Since I couldn’t bloody well fly out to England, and it was too late to ask Jack to run up there and take photos, I was forced to do something I’d never done before: digitally paint a landscape. So there you have it. In this instance you could say copyright law encouraged creativity rather than stifled it. Go figure.
Eleven Miles There, Twelve Miles Back (Meghan Rose Allen)
Eleven Miles There, Twelve Miles Back splits timelines between Toronto and the Kawarthas. I wanted to capture those two places melting into one, as they would when viewed through the lens of memory.
The forest part of the image is a ho-hum photo I took three years ago while driving through British Columbia. The photo which became the city part of the image, on the other hand, came about in fabulously serendipitous fashion. I was walking around downtown with my girlfriend at the time, and just as we were crossing the street at Queen and John, the dying light glinted off the pavement and a streetcar just so, and I had to take a picture of it. The picture sucked, obviously, so I re-crossed the street a couple of times – much to my companion’s consternation – and snapped some more shots from the middle of the intersection. That’s the life of an artist for you.
Angels Passing (Don McLellan)
This cover wouldn’t have been possible without a fantastic photo taken by my friend, Julio Palacios, who spent a few years teaching (and travelling) through Asia. I’ll let him take over from here:
I was almost finished crossing the island of Java on my way to Bali when I took this photograph. Seeing as though I was already heading east and in its direction, I decided it would be wrong to skip on seeing the tourist-friendly Mount Bromo. After a long and bumpy jeep ride left me as close as it could to the pristine yet still active volcano top, I discovered – scattered across the flatlands surrounding the ancient volcano – these Tenggerese people on horseback. Drawn by the gaggles of tourists, these nomadic hoarders gather every morning before daybreak in order to pick up or deliver much needed supplies and goods, and to offer the exhausted tourist a lift to one of the volcano’s fuming volcanic craters.
There really isn’t that much more for me to add to this, except maybe a couple of words on the Korean script we used above the title. Julio was teaching in Korea when I designed the cover, and he was kind enough to ask one of his co-workers to translate the phrase Angels Passing to script. Our crack team (and by team I mean Geoff Olynyk, Jackie’s partner and one of the unsung heroes of Found Press) double-checked with one of his co-workers on the quality of the translation, and reported back thusly:
The current translation does not strictly mean “angels passing”, it means “the trace of an angel”, with “trace” in the sense of “a presence left behind”, like a footprint left by a person that walked through the snow. But he suggests leaving it as it is now, for these reasons:
- If you add the plural character (둘, dul, pronounced dool), it becomes “the trace of angels”, but he says it sounds much more awkward in Korean that way. The Korean language has certain phrases that sound very elegant, and the way you have it now sounds very elegant and poetic. Adding the dul takes that away.
- Changing the current second word (“the trace of”) to the one that more literally means “passing by” also makes it sound “childish” according to JP.
- He says it’s very clear what it means now, and the current translation is the best for keeping the meaning while also making it sound good in Korean.
Something about the lot of us firing emails at each other from three different countries to get this done strikes me as extremely cool.
By the way, if you want to see more of Julio’s awesome pictures from Indonesia, pop on over to his website. Seriously, go look. Now.
Memories of a Carnivore: Adventures in Eating Ethically (Julie Dupuis)
Memories of a Carnivore is the autobiographical account of a meat-eater trying to become vegetarian. So naturally, my twisted mind immediately pictures a vegetable that eats meat. The fly trap doesn’t actually have anything to do with the story, except on a conceptual level, but it’s just so striking and weird that I had to use it. The illustration is from an ancient (ergo: public domain) guide to American plants.
So there you go. If you’re interested, go on and check out the first part of our series. And do keep an eye out for our next post, previewing our upcoming collection and authors!