Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The 'Moby-Dick' art book starts coming together

On Monday night, I came home from work to find a long-awaited package from the publisher Tin House Books sitting on the doorstep. I knew it was coming, but seeing it just sitting there was still thrilling. I grabbed it, ran to the closet studio, dropped it on the drawing table, and took a deep breath. Here is what it was like to open the package. First, the box sitting on my table...


Carefully slicing it open, I found...an awful lot of packing material...


I couldn't get that stuff pulled out and thrown away fast enough, it seemed. Finally though, I got to the contents all carefully stacked and rubber banded together complete with a detailed letter from the folks at Tin House Books...


And here, my friends, is everything there was in the package, carefully removed and spread out on the table waiting for me to dive in. I'll explain each in detail, but here's the rundown. On the far left, you can see the letter. The upper left corner is a bundle of text with illustration titles. The upper right is 2-page spread studies. The far right is a giant mailing envelope with the entire book printed out (no covers yet). Back to the lower left are some tint studies. And finally on the lower right are some promo postcards Tin House is printing up.


First, the tint studies. The art book will actually be printed on a nice, thick, matte-finish paper with a lovely creamy off-white color. It looks really exquisite. One of the issues Tin House ran into was that some of my illustrations were so close to the paper color that the borders of the art were lost. You can actually kind of see what I mean in this photo. The illustration just kind of bled into the page and got lost. Somehow, through digital magic completely beyond me, the art people at Tin House found a way to put down what they called a layer of tint that nicely defines the art without really changing any of the colors in the illustration. They sent me a handful of illustrations printed with and without the tint layer to see which I preferred. The tinted pieces look fantastic.


Here are the text corrections. Lots and lots and lots of red proofreader marks. I've got to go through all 552 very carefully and make sure the text, punctuation, media, dimensions and dates are correct. I'll probably be working on this at S.P.A.C.E. this weekend.


These are the studies for the 2-page spreads. I apologize, I didn't actually take pictures of the spreads. The Tin House people mentioned that the illustrations for page 258 and page 299 were extremely large, yet because of their dimensions they would actually end up being the smallest illustrations in the book. They suggested taht for these two pieces only, the book contain a two page spread. They do look fantastic at this large size. I am concerned that a bit too much of the art may be lost in the gutter between the pages, but we'll see.


The bundle of postcards. These too look really great, and Tin House even did an amazing job designing the back of each. I hope to be able to get some of these myself, and if I can get a decent number I'll post something about sending a bunch of them out to you all.


And finally, the most exciting part by far. Each and every one of the 52 illustrations printed exactly as they will appear in the book. My job is to carefully look at each one and make sure there are no obvious errors or problems as well as to carefully check that the colors are as close to the originals as the printing process will allow. I can't even put into words how incredibly exciting it is to see the whole thing get this much closer to actual publication.


The people at Tin House have just done an astounding job with this book. Everything from the paper to the font choices to the layout is just stellar. The book is really shaping up to be a beautiful object, and I am thrilled beyond words right now. I can't wait to see the final thing and share it with you all!

16 comments:

  1. Rock!! This is incredible :-)

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  2. Buck and Bill, it is just kind of mindblowing to see this all in front of me. Even though it's basically just a pile of pages, I can really see the book taking shape. It's still so strange to think I began this entire thing over a year and a half ago, in total anonymity, hoping mostly just to make something my friends and family members would think was kind of cool.


    October can't come fast enough!

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  3. Wow. Thanks for the visual journey! Good luck on the next step. Cannot wait to buy this book.

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  4. Sandy, it is really a pleasure to be able to share this with everyone that has visited the blog. I honestly feel like everyone who has checked in, commented, and emailed me has also been a big part of this project, so in a way I am just sharing what is the fruit of all of your labor as well.

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  5. what an amazing feeling! i have an idea how it is - though not in the proportions you are experiencing after such long drawn project.
    i love how you documented the whole contents and process. lots of work still but for such a wonderful end result! thanks. lizzy

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  6. Lizzy, opening the box was like Christmas morning. I really had no idea exactly what would be inside, nor did I know what the book itself might end up looking like. I really wanted to do those pictures step by step to try and show, as well as a blog is able to at least, what it was like to discover each new component of this amazing package. I can't wait to experience what it will be like to hold the finished book in my hands!

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  7. This is beyond cool! It looks superb, and Tin House seem to have really done the project justice. I am so looking forward to having my own one!

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  8. Matt,
    I found this last night while google searching illustrations from Moby Dick. Really wonderful stuff, and I can't wait to see the finished book.

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  9. Dallas Arts Salon, thank you, it really does feel fantastic to me too!

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  10. Titus, the fine folks at Tin House really have done a wonderful job in putting this thing together. In spite of not doing too many art books in the past, they really seem to have a keen eye for this kind of thing. I am lucky to be working with them.

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  11. King A.Z., I am honestly really glad that even Google searches are leading people here. I am kind of proud of what I was able to do, and it means a great deal to me to be able to share this with other people. Thank you for checking it out!

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  12. Just when it felt like I'd never buy another physical ink-on-paper book again, you've given me reason to look forward to a wonderful book. Can't wait to get my hands on it!

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  13. Winston, it's funny you mention that. I know that this digital revolution is going to continue, regardless of how anyone feels. But I do hope that in a world full of Kindles, Nooks, iPhones and eReaders that there will always be room for beautiful art books. Reading literature on a screen is fine, but there is no substitute for color art. Thank you very much for adding my book to your collection!

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