What is the concept for my book? In

  • What is the concept for my book? In what ways is that concept creative and original?

The concept for my book was to create a sort of snapshot from the story.  My story, “Nasty,” is about a woman who visits a bar she used to frequent in the ’70s and while there she discovers that her number is still scrawled on the walls of the bathroom.  I thought it would be fun to go the non-traditional route and build a miniature bathroom, complete with toilet and stall.  Then I took elements from the story and wrote them as graffiti on the bathroom walls, along with a few crude drawings and other things you might find on the walls of a crappy bar’s bathroom.  I think this was more creative/original than doing a traditional book because it allows the reader to really get a sense of what kind of place this story is set in, and it plays with elements of the story in a way that might grab someone’s attention more than a traditional book.  Also, because the story is a very short flash piece, this was an opportunity to come up with something that seemed more substantial.

  • In what ways does my concept challenge me creatively and structurally?

I was challenged creatively by trying to figure out the appropriate scale of the model and also how to incorporate all the details I wanted on such a small scale.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to implement as many details as I wanted, not to mention the disconnect between what I see in my head and my actual level of talent.  Structurally, I was challenged by the mediums I chose: I learned that I am not a great sculptor and that I get very impatient with the process in a very short amount of time.  I think my toilets are pretty lumpy and unfinished-looking, but I was so frustrated that I couldn’t slow down enough to really concentrate on them.  They don’t look terrible, but they don’t look the way I pictured them.  I also had difficulty using binder board because it was very hard to paint; even after three coats, you could still see the dark color of the board underneath in places.  And then the paint itself posed a problem because it sucked up the ink from my pens and Sharpies.  A lot of the writing on the walls seems faded to me, and I ended up painting the words on one of my models because all of my Sharpies were dried up.  That in itself presented a problem because the handwriting became messier and it was easier to make mistakes.

  • What is the level of craftsmanship that I have brought to the book? What successes and failures did I have in constructing the book?

In my opinion, the craftsmanship is sorely lacking.  I didn’t budget my time well, first of all, so a lot of things were rushed during the process and I think it really looks that way.  I think the strongest element of my “book” is the concept, but the execution didn’t really meet my expectations.  I had hoped for everything to look much more detailed and a lot cleaner (in terms of construction, not in terms of the actual bathroom, because it’s supposed to be gross).  But because of my lack of patience and lack of talent in some areas, I think the outcome is a little sloppy. 

  • In what ways have I fully explored and even stretched the book form I used?

Since I went for a non-traditional form and made more of an art piece than a book, I think I really explored the potential of the story and how it could become something really playful and unique.  I think the form makes the story more interesting and since I pulled out elements of the story for the writing on the walls rather than writing the entire piece as graffiti, I think it’s interesting to compare the two and see how much the reader can glean from the model itself versus the full story.

  • How is the form of the book linked to the content of the book?

Since the story essentially takes place in this bathroom, the model really puts the reader in the setting itself and exposes the reader to the dinginess and sadness of the old bar and the old woman who’s visiting it.

  • What graphic and typographic choices did I make for this book and why? How do these elements impact the book and my concept?  

For the parts of the story that I typed, I used a simple font so that it didn’t compete very much with the model.  The choices I made with the model just reinforced the idea of this being an old, dirty bar bathroom: I chose darker colors and beige instead of white to make things look dingy and faded.  I didn’t want anything to look bright.  A lot of it, therefore, is also literally dirty, like the mirrors which are smudged. I also decided not to paint two of the toilets, just to see what they looked like without paint.  I think now that I should have painted them like the first toilet that I made, because they look too much like clay and not just old, dirty toilets.

  • What is the name/title of my book, and why was that name/title selected?

The title of my book is Nasty.  I chose this because the form and the story are pretty gross.  In the story, the woman is pretty promiscuous and doesn’t even know who the father of her child is.  Also, she really takes pride in her past and her decisions.  To me, “nasty” isn’t used in this instance as a derogatory term, but it’s supposed to be kind of tongue-in-cheek, like she knows she’s nasty and she loves it.

  • If I were to make this book over again, what things would I change (in process, concept, and construction), and why?

First of all, I would give myself more time.  It didn’t help things, of course, that I drastically changed the direction things were going in midway through the process, but I’m at least glad I went with this form and story rather than what I had envisioned before.  I would have made some changes as mentioned above in terms of materials – I wonder if just cardboard would have worked better than binder board, or if using spray paint would have been more effective? I’m not completely dissatisfied with how things turned out, but I didn’t get to incorporate as many elements as I wanted.  One big then that I left out was the door – I had originally planned to use it as my “title page”, but I ran out of time and patience with trying to figure out the microscopic hinges I bought, and I didn’t want to have the door be immobile. So ultimately I just decided not to include it (which really makes the bathroom grosser) and I used a mirror and lipstick for my “title page”.  Overall I found a lot of creative ways to do things, but I think my ambitions were greater than what I could achieve practically.  I think that if I had only had to complete one model as opposed to three then I could have incorporated a lot more, but the assembly-line element of the process seemed to detract from how much I wanted to do, I think.

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