I was commissioned to produce a friend of mine’s latest book. Bob Blunt’s travel fiction novel – or ‘faction’ as Bob prefers to describe it, follows the experiences of Don Laridis, an Aussie who decamps to South Korea in need of a change. The story is kind of a travelogue and subtle exposé on a foreign lands’ unfamiliar nuances and moral fabric. The character has thrown himself into a new career as a teacher, and things don’t work out quite as he planned. He finds himself caught up in a tale centred around the apparently quite intense and ultimately ruthless private education racket.
It’s a good read. Vivid, dialogue-driven, it has great pace and the over-arching tone, while not sinister certainly conveys a sort of scuzzy or at least sheen-less perspective on this particular world. To this end I needed to convey a similar vibe in the art.
I was commissioned for the whole shebang; consulting on and managing the publishing process, art direction, typesetting, overall design, and also to create custom illustration to punctuate the prose – around twenty in total. I opted for a quite stripped-down distressed look, to help convey the ‘tarnished’ characters and experiences described in the book. There are a couple of fairly surreal passages in there too, so a darkly humorous edge was also required. The jacket and endpapers have spot illustrations lifting out key imagery from the narrative and for the cover itself I went for a classic device; placing a head front and centre since we are following a person’s very personal voyage of discovery and change. The palette draws not only on the Korean flag (it’s a travel novel after all), but also some of the wonderful vibrant neon shades so loved in S.Korean traditional dress and cultural iconography. I think the results are great, Bob was pleased anyway.