Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Corlaine Cover Redesign Reminiscence

In one of my last semesters of school working my way to my Associate Degree in Applied Arts, Graphic Design and Illustration, I was assigned a dream class project, to redesign a book cover. Seriously, if I could just make all my money doing book cover design I would, but sadly I am not Chip Kidd. I had two major problems that needed to be surmounted, one was the specifications of the assignment, which stated that the cover had to be a photoshoot I would art direct, but more importantly, what book to pick? After much thought I narrowed it down to two choices, Agatha Christie's Sparkling Cyanide and Neil Gaiman's Coraline. In the end I chose Coraline. It wasn't for lack of ideas on the Christie front, it's just that I have never really embraced any of the different official covers of Corlaine, which I think is a common feeling if you look at the number of people who have made their own covers. Seriously, the fan are out there is amazing. Of course, the irony of this project is that I ended up not even liking my own re-design. I had the basic idea down, but a few missteps threw the whole design out of balance.

My only issue I take with Coraline in general is Dave McKean. I seriously love his work but sometimes, in fact a lot of the times, his imagery doesn't match what you're reading. There's a disconnect, one I felt most while reading The Graveyard Book. Neil and Dave do work well together, but sometimes I feel like they're not on the same page and they're both so talented and respectful of each other they don't call one another out on something that might need fixing. So for my cover I wanted to go in a direction that wasn't an interpretation of what was written but of taking specific items that are important to the narrative and making them real. One of my favorite parts of Coraline is when she fools The Other Mother by creating a fake picnic as "protective coloration" so I started with a picnic cloth as my base. I then spent weeks finding the right props, a stone with a hole in it to see through, a needle that was wicked enough to replace eyes with buttons as well as the buttons, three luminous marbles to symbolize the trapped children's souls. After much searching I found all I was looking for and I still have a large bag of insects if anyone needs some.

Where I went wrong was in trying to sew the title onto the fabric. Through many episodes of How I Met Your Mother I sewed and sewed and ended up with an illegible mess that should have been done on the computer at a later time. But the actual photoshoot was fun, getting to eat the pie one of my classmates brought to do a cover re-design for The Help, seeing how others interpreted what they had read. And despite viewing this project as unsuccessful, it was still a wonderful experience, I won't say learning experience because I hate that phrase so much even if I did learn a lot. I had such fun in bringing imagery from the world Neil Gaiman created into this world. Finding just the balance of his magical realm and the reality that exists within it. Neil drove me to take his words and make something. This is the gift of a true writer. To inspire his readers to want to not only live in his world but to create something tangible. To express their own feelings and thoughts through other mediums. A good author tells a story that is memorable, a great author tells a story that inspires.


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