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Assignment 5: Your choice

It's time for the final assignment where I will be using all of my previous knowledge to produce a book design of my choice. I've been looking forward to this task and I'm excited to explore some of the ideas I've been having to showcase everything I have learned.


Finding a concept / Writing a brief

This assignment is very open ended, but begins by offering 3 general areas that I could explore based on the main subjects covered across the unit:

Influential Book designers

Identify one or more book designers to present through your book. Find ways to develop your own creative responses to their ideas and visual approaches. Delve into their work, find suitable quotations, investigate their influences, and find ways of communicating this material, and your interpretation of it, to an audience through effective use of layout, narrative, and choices of material.


Extend your exploration of typography by continuing to develop creative approaches to how typography, layout and your material choices can help generate meaning. Develop a book that explores one aspect of typography in more detail, or combines a variety of approaches. Just because your project explores typography it doesn’t mean you can’t also include images, colour and narrative.

Found and altered books

Use an existing book as a creative starting point. This could be an extension of exploring altering books in some way, or as a research project into a specific book that will generate content and creative ideas for a new book. Find a physical book to work with or pick one of your influential books from Part One.

Of these three suggestions, I feel the found and altered book idea aligns the best with what I mentioned in the reflective practice exercise, that I work the most comfortably when adapting existing literary material and using it to create my own unique version. I enjoyed this a lot in my alternate takes on Robinson Crusoe and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, as I have a fondness of any of the non-fiction stories that had become popular by the time of the Victorian era, particularly with the emergence of science fiction and fantasy novels.

With this in mind, I searched for titles available in the public domain that could serve as focus of inspiration for a project. There are plenty of publicly accessible books available that are widely recognised as classics with countless adaptations across media, but I wanted to find something that I could give my own interpretation of. Examples such as the recently entry of available Winnie the pooh into the public domain have become visually synonymous with the original illustrations by E.L. James and the animated versions produced by Disney in popular culture, so I wanted to avoid titles that had this level of definitive character design and to instead choose books that were open to variety in their existing interpretations. I shortlisted the following options that interested me:

Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly (1818)

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908)

My interests here oddly vary from gothic horror into children's novels in fantasy worlds, and these titles have lots of visual directions that I could take my work in. As I kept thinking about it, I became more interested in making an adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Its a short story with accessible language that on the face of it is a nonsense fantasy adventure for children, but still remains the subject of debate other interpretations. Themes relating to questions about reality, dreams, escapism and mental health subjects are all interesting topics that I could use in my own version, and I was already full of initial idea's on how I could explore this, so I wrote a short brief for myself to follow and respond to.

Brief for Assignment 5:

Design an artist's book inspired by the 1865 children's novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. You may use any part of the original work as a basis for making your own version using original images and text, or by using appropriate material from fair use and public domain sources.

Creatively explore layouts and materials responding to the source material to design the cover design and page layouts. you may wish to reinterpret or reframe the narrative to explore alternative themes for example, or to enhance those shown in the original work.

Print, bind and photograph your own copy of the book as a unique object or as a proof of concept for a production run. Write in your learning log about your design choices and what considerations have been made for how this book may be commercially printed.

With this aim to refer back to and to work towards, I began the development process following the stages similarly to the ones I had outlined when I was planning my workflow in Exercise 2.


Research & Initial Ideas

Working with the Text

I found a PDF copy of the original version of the novel that was compiled into an eBook in 1991 and a plain text transcription that I could print off, read through and annotate. I went through each chapter and highlighted sections that stood out to me and that I could annotate with notes. I didn't want to include the full text in my abridged version, so highlighting the most important lines that progressed the plot was important to the aims of my project.

When reading through, I quickly found that despite being a short novel of less than 200 pages spread out over twelve chapters, a lot of significant events happen in quick succession. I originally thought that a double page spread would be enough in my own adaptation to represent each chapter, but I was mindful that more pages might be required to flesh out all the key plot points if I kept the story linear.

I was also delighted to see how creative some of the original layouts were, with many pages using imaginative arrangements of words and poetry that compliment the beautiful original inkwork of John Tenniel in a series of now iconic plate illustrations. The playful layouts of words as a form for some of the musical segments reminded me of my studies of concrete poetry. For example, I really enjoyed the flow of the words describing the mouse's tale and the variety of techniques on this page were a key inspiration for my developments later on.

Pages 36-37, from the original publication of Lewis Carrols Alice's Adventures In Wonderland.

As I read and highlighted key phrases from each chapter, I made notes in my sketchbook, where I could break down what characters and events I wanted to focus on. I found that narratively I could reduce each chapter into three key plot points, the a potential book length could become a much more manageable 38 pages that would contain playful arrangements of text and illustrations that would honour the original book, but in small chunks that are easy to open a page to and visually absorb as they are read.

These notes were essential to guide me through the visual development of the book and something that I frequently looked back on and added to to make sure I was keeping my choices relevant to the source material.

Visual Research

As with my work thumbnailing The handmaids tale, I think it's important to see how other artists have interpreted the same media, so that I can see which ways I want my own designs to follow or differ from the ways the book had been previously presented.

I expanded my search to include other media that interpreted Alice In wonderland, including film and television adaptations such as the famously popular Disney animated film. With it being from the same source material, there was bound to be some similarities between my interpretation and those from other artists, but It was useful to get a taste of the others to know what I should lean towards and steer away from.

Alice's adventures in wonderland has appeared in many forms of media since it was released. With it being a beloved classic and a very fantastical 'nonsense' tale, it has been often interpreted as dreamlike, both in positive lights as a bright world in animation and as a darker tale with gothic influences and macabre undertones that focus on the threat to Alice posed by the characters in wonderland.

Initial Ideas

A common interpretation of the grander meaning of the story of Alice's adventures in wonderland is on the psychologic elements of whether the story is a subconscious dream or a fantastical series of events that took place. Many of the characters that appear can be seen as reflections of her environment where she sits on a summer afternoon for example, her cat () as the cheshire cat, the deck of playing cards ....

When I thought of this dream like state and how I could represent it visually, I thought about the floatiness of loose concepts in how I dream, where one idea or subject will rapidly lead into another as the scenes shift. Because of this I decided not to concern myself too much with a linear flow of the book

Charlie mackays The boy the mole the fox and the horse also has a loose visual style that

To act as a visual guideline, I made another mood board of textures and images that would help inform my intentions for visually representing this soft and dream like state that I wanted to present Alice in.



Design and Development

- Flat planning images as thumbnails




(Image: Proofing process / notes for revisions)


(Image: Making revisions / Set ready for print)


Printing & Binding

(Image: Printing test sheet)


(Image: Glueing and setting Book block)


(Image: Binding to the cover)




(Images: final physical book photos)


(Images: final digital mock up photos)



(Image: Front Covers)

- Reflections on the project



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