Directed by Diego Maclean. Poem by Billy Collins.
I was reminded recently in a conversation with my dear jonhallsillustration of this short which I fell in love with a few years ago. There’s something about the way people illustrate or paint moving water that really fascinates me, possibly because I’m aware from my own experience, of the Moving Image GIFs below, that it’s quite difficult to capture bubbles and ripples in an effective way.
Anyway, I find this brilliantly done. Another short that I discovered was the ever developing, on-going illustrated ’Johnny Cash Project’ - which you can watch here: http://www.thejohnnycashproject.com/#/explore/TopRated
Publishing adult fiction
Generally the first comment made by my non-designer acquaintances once I tell them that I’m studying illustration is, “Oh yeah, like drawings for books and stuff”. Sigh.
As I’ve said before, I was also one of the people whose first thought of the word ‘illustration’ went straight to the Quentin Blake and Beatrix Potter stories that were read to me as a child. So it was interesting to be given a research brief that required us to focus on one writing genre - for me and Tamsin, this was ‘adult fiction’ (is there a way of writing that so it doesn’t sound like I’m referring to erotic literature?) - and find publishing companies that use illustrative book covers. We would also have to think about the styles of illustrations that were used, whether this was an effective/appropriate choice and whether the illustrator was credited and known to us. The publishers that we investigated were four of the ‘Big Six’, Hachette, Harper Collins, Pan Macmillan and Random House, as well as Bloomsbury.
We immediately noticed how the majority of covers used photographic solutions, as was especially common with books ‘of the film’, which had recently been released at the cinema - we used Pan Macmillan’s Warm Bodies as an example of this, as Tamsin had read the book before the film was released and owned a copy with the original cover.
We had quite a strong dislike of these designs and thought they were poor decisions, as the previous designs had been beautiful and provoking, yet had been thrown onto the scrapheap in favour of something which would address, and be recognisable to, the wider consumer who wouldn’t necessarily have an appreciation of thoughtfully designed objects. We used the Pan Macmillan website to look at the other fiction covers and saw that illustration was still quite popularly used within the adult fiction genre, however this use varied from small borders and doodles to experimental typography.
What really stuck in our minds after looking at Hachette was the range of chick lit covers that had been created with an author that used a recurring theme of fashion illustration style female characters, usually posed as a silhouette against a block-coloured shape, cursive font and “feminine” colours such as turquoises and candy pinks. Motifs included stilettos, handbags, cupcakes, flowers, stars, lipsticks and hearts and vile foil effects. Again, we left this publisher rather disappointed with the lack of imaginative solutions, as every cover looked pretty much the same when next to each other.
Harper Collins, Random House and Bloomsbury again seemed to use photographic solutions and as such paired illustrative cover designs with more child-oriented reading material. This was one of the more frustrating research briefs that Tamsin and I worked together on, however with the Penguin Design competitions it was encouraging to see past entrants attempts at illustrating various age ranged books, so this gave me a little faith in that, whilst the majority of people decide that it’s more marketable and age-appropriate to have adult fiction books as photographic covers, designers and those who can appreciate design are still strongly attempting to address these other types of readers.