Exercise 4: Collating and Binding

Following on once more from the progress made in the previous exercise, I was asked to review, collate and rebind the images I have been making for the poem Tango with cows into a new volume that brings the images together as a small book. I had started to think about the combined effect of the images existing together being viewed together on each side of my folding document, but for this creation I needed to unite them successfully in a new structure that shares a narrative.


Reflecting and evaluating

I began the process of reflecting on my work, then selecting which images worked best and which ones need a rework or dropping all together. I had also started to do this in the previous exercise as had already taken two images out to bring the total to 14, so I used this opportunity as a second pass at quality control.

Looking at my document from before, I think there is a lot of strengths in many of these images, especially after the additions of the geometric shapes that interact with the scenes. With that said however, there were still things that could be trimmed down and cut out, starting with the cover, which I wanted to do something entirely different with in this project.

Rejected options from the previous layouts.

I felt that the orange groves didn't offer as much visual intrigue as the others and that the lines did not interact as well with the landscape. The sign of nobility that I had photoshopped into the background as a cliffside castle was almost too convincing with the scene to be noticed wither, and I felt the message from the lines of the poem that inspired these choices were lost, and not needed any more.

The 'canned mirth' concept was also something that I felt missed the mark, but for the opposite reason. There's plenty going on as I tried to add some creepy and sinister humour to the phrase, but unlike the other lines in the poem 'with tinned mirth' turned out to be too much of an abstract concept for me to interpret the same way as I had done with the images. With this being the odd one out, I also added it to the cutting pile.

Reworking and Collating

I was happy with the overall feel of the images as a collection by this stage, and although I did not feel a need to make sweeping adjustments to any of the images, I did want to emphasise and enhance some of the effects in a selection of them:

  • The doorways that represent choice in the 'we look at our destiny' inspired image had not had the desired effect when viewed in print. What was originally meant to look recessed into the image against the black and white background almost did the total opposite and stood out like a gold bar sitting on the page, so I simply removed it in favour of a crisp white door frame that matches the line work.

  • My favourite pair, of the sailboat and ice-floe skating dog, also needed a little tweaking to the geometric shapes bring them in line with the others. The sailing panel had lines that looked too similar to the 'conquerors of the skies' panel, so I replaced that with triangles that emulated sails, and the shattered ice effects were expanded to cross to the edges of the frame against the ice floe.

  • Finally, I noticed that the saturation on the globe in 'we, the discoverers of countries' made the image too drab for a line that's meant to represent the achievement of exploring the world, so I raised the colour values and changed the positioning of the rings to create a more dynamic composition that engages the viewer much more than before

The ordering of these pages has also been changed slightly. With a dozen options now, that I had previously designated in pairs, I wanted to use them horizontally in page leaves, rather than listed in vertical pairs as they were shown in the folded document. This can still be read nonlinear, and each image serves a purpose on its own, but a traditional left to right format felt like a better option for practicing binding in the next stage.

Reprinting and Binding

To print out my work, I was asked to use one of the paper types that I had looked at in Exercise 1 as a material to print on. I chose to use graph paper as a border pattern in my work, as this fences in the image with a uniform grid pattern that connects with the same themes of looming industry that I have had in mind throughout all my projects using Tango with cows. I felt the grid was noticeable enough without being overwhelming and didn't detract from the mood of each image.

I also edited a blank tab on the inside edges of the verso and recto pages as a guide for where I attach to an accordion spine as a binding for the book. I chose this technique as it's easily producible and would extend out with enough flexibility to showcase a small set of pages as a portfolio. All the pages would then be printed onto 7 sheets of double sided 210gsm white card, which allows for each of the 6 pairs pair to be viewed together with a blank front and back cover.

Redesigned page examples ready for print.

An idea that has crept up on me for this project is the feeling that I've designed a collection of album artwork based on lyrics from a song rather than poetry. This felt relevant to the question posed by one of my earlier rejected lines from the poem, 'perhaps we will buy a record player?' I really wanted to bring this concept back as a cover, so I designed a template for a recreation of a 7-inch vinyl record sleeve to be printed on brown paper, using a variant of the footprint concept from exercise 2 now adapted to fit a square.

This unique casing is something different for a book's form factor and I like the irony of modelling a book inspired by Tango with Cows after one of the main examples of modern luxuries that the poem originally delivered in a sarcastic tone.

New Templates

Now that all my preparations were complete, I printed off my images and trimmed them down ready for assembly. For the spine I had marked lines on brown paper that had helped me to make even folds that were 1cm in size that could be attached to each printed page's tab. Putting this together was a quick process and finished off nicely with the addition of the cover sleeve, complete with a removed circle to help slide the booklet in and out.

This was a very satisfying process because it's very rare for me to print out something, then to trim it down and assemble it for it to work as intended right out of the box. I had made designs for the cover to be slightly bigger than the booklet and the fit turned out just as I intended in being snug but not too tight to easily remove the contents. Moments like this are fleeting when working in the creative industry, so I'm grateful for this one!

The finished booklet and record style cover sleeve.

I really enjoyed this exercise and the ones preceding it in working with Tango with Cows and it led my down some really unexpected creative routes. This has been the most rewarding to take something though the entire process from start to finish, as an original interpretation that I've realised and produced myself.