This project has actually been going on for a while but in the interests of keeping my lovely readers GUESSING I will only ever tell you about 30% of what’s going on. This project is now finished and so I’m going to unveil it. Remember all that Ethiopian work I did a while ago? Of course you do, because I’m still having exhibitions about it. Well a writer called Elizabeth Laird has travelled a lot in Ethiopia and written a lot about it, and compiled a new book of folk tales from there.
You can see where this is going. Under the direction of the good people of Polygon books (Alison Rae and Jim Hutcheson in particular) I’ve produced a cover for it.
The image is based off a composition of several elements from research drawings I made in a town called Delo Mena in the Harenna forest, like this scraperboard:
And this one here, of people drinking coffee and tea, which are very Ethiopian things to do.
And also this small drawing of two men of two men on the right, because I really wanted to feature these characters somewhere.
It’s sort of harder than you think, for two reasons. One is that you have to leave space for all the text, which is tricky when you’re making an image by itself because you feel compelled to fill in the big wide empty spaces to balance the competition, whereas a good cover before text leaves unconventionally empty spaces that may be filled later. Secondly it was difficult because while the cover is a wraparound (I do like doing wraparounds, I wrote about them when I illustrated Of Mice and Men) and I had to make the front cover several months ago, but they hadn’t settled on the spine width at that point. The spine and back cover were made separately with a lot of lining up the printing block against the print and fiddling around with mirrors and then photoshop to fix everything together.
I also made some text with scraperboard for the cover and spine, then added the blurb, barcode, and all the other things separately.
Which sort of leaves things very busy, until you remember that you only really see one side of a book at a time. I think the spine is bright enough to jump off the shelves at people. I do hope it is. Anyway, this book comes out in August, and it really is very good (I’ve read the manuscript) so if you want to look at my pictures while reading something that’s more interesting than hearing me talk recite endless, unrelated anecdotes about Ethiopia, then I really do recommend it.