- What is the concept for my book? In what ways is that concept creative and original?
The concept for my book was to integrate some electrical-type elements to reflect the title of Ander Monson’s collection, Other Electricities. The main elements that I incorporated were small electrical diagrams on each page. I also used metallics – gold, bronze, and silver – as the color scheme for the book. In terms of originality, I think that the diagrams are the most creative/unique features of the book; however, having said that, they can’t be all that creative considering they’re used pretty frequently in Monson’s own book. But I like the fact that my text is hand-written and that I used different styles of writing – print, cursive, block letters – to add some variety without depending on InDesign.
- In what ways does my concept challenge me creatively and structurally?
I think the concept challenged me in the sense that I had to figure out what could be done with a very simple book form (accordion). I think it was important that the book not be too plain considering the simple form, but I’m not sure I achieved that. I also found that I was a little limited by the structure in terms of not being able to execute my initial plans for the design (using copper wire), so that actually squashed my creativity in a way because I felt like I was at the point of no return with my plan and couldn’t easily start something else without having wasted supplies and time.
- What is the level of craftsmanship that I have brought to the book? What successes and failures did I have in constructing the book?
I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed in my craftsmanship. Instead of hand-writing every single book, I decided to scan the image of my mock-up/prototype and make copies to speed up the process and decrease the chance of my hand falling off or my hand-writing becoming nothing but illegible blobs. But in sacrificing the hand-written elements, I ran into problems with getting the paper to line up and fold correctly and I don’t think the copies are as nice looking as my original. I think that in the future, I’d rather not do a hand-written book, even though I liked that design element. But when it comes to mass-producing something like that, I feel like you’re kind of screwed either way: you can end up with something that looks like a cheap knock-off of the original, or you can expend a lot of time and energy doing all the writing and hope that your hand is up to the task.
- In what ways have I fully explored and even stretched the book form I used?
I don’t think I necessarily stretched the book form I used. I think I fully explored it in the sense that I did something on a larger scale than I have in the past. It might be due to my lack of creativity, but I felt a little “stuck” in some ways with using the accordion book form.
- How is the form of the book linked to the content of the book?
Originally I wanted the book to fold out and look like a complete electrical diagram/grid. But then, as I added the electrical diagrams to each page, I decided not to go back and link them or try to do a diagram that spanned the entire length of the book. The accordion form would’ve lent itself to doing what I originally planned, and I think it would have been cool to see it almost as schematics that you’d find in a professional’s supplies. But without connecting the diagrams or having just one large one, I think that the form only works because of the hand-written element, which shows off the different patterns and styles at a single glance.
- What graphic and typographic choices did I make for this book and why? How do these elements impact the book and my concept?
I chose to hand-write the text in different styles. I chose this just because a lot of the content of the book felt very personal – it deals with death and love and family – and I wanted to feel really connected to the text as I was writing it. Not to mention, I wasn’t sure what to do without having InDesign (before I knew about ways of acquiring it that wouldn’t cost a million dollars). I also incorporated the electrical diagrams and chose metallic colors to use throughout the book. I liked this element because I feel like it gives the book a look of almost being machinery.
- What is the name/title of my book, and why was that name/title selected?
I chose the title of the story I used, “Dream Obits for Liz.” Event though the design of the book reflects the collection’s title, Other Electricities, I thought it more appropriate to use the story’s title, plus you immediately get a sense of what the content is going to be like.
- If I were to make this book over again, what things would I change (in process, concept, and construction), and why?
I think I would choose a different form. I thought that a simpler form would give me more opportunities for creativity and wackiness, but then it didn’t seem to be the case (not so much because it isn’t possible, but more because the elements I wanted to incorporate didn’t seem to work with the form without making it bulky or distorted). I feel like if I had to do this over again, I might have chosen the stab-bound book and tried to do something creative with the thread/binding. Also, I would obviously have loved to have used InDesign or some other program to make this a little less time-intensive and ultimately watered-down looking when it came to copies of the scanned book. I think that it also would have been helpful to do more than one mock-up and actually test out different forms before just blindly deciding on one. Even though I think the accordion form worked out okay, it would have been good to see what my options were in person, because for me it’s hard to conceptualize something based on just knowing the different forms. I would have also allotted myself more time (which is a tricky thing to do, of course) and, if I decided to go with hand-written text, I would have hand written each individual book instead of making copies. Overall, I don’t really love the book I created, but I’m not completely disappointed with it, either. I actually feel kind of neutral towards it, but of course it’d be nice to be really excited about something that I made.