Arigato Tokyo / This is War
Playwrights Canada Press is working closely together with the Banff Centre Press to co-publish three plays by three different authors. They were seeking unique designs for each book that relate visually as a matching set. I started with the first two, by Daniel MacIvor and Hannah Moscovitch, which will be released in the fall. The third, by Colleen Murphy, will follow in spring 2014.
The first direction relied on construction paper cutouts, simple objects, and a limited colour palette of red, green, and brown, to tie the books together. For MacIvor’s cover, I was determined to render a scene from the last act, in Carl’s declaration to Yori, when he describes a marble-sized world that exists only in his head and his struggle to not fall off. For Moscovitch, I chose stools to represent the four Canadian soldiers being questioned by an unseen, unheard interviewer about an traumatizing occurrence in the Panjwaii desert.
The selected direction proposed plain black silhouettes adorned with emblems from each play. It’s a flexible system that should lend itself well if PCP & BCP decide to expand the series in the future.
Martini With a Twist
This project came with a title pun of sorts and a too-good-to-be-true brief: “just do some kind of bold, colourful, perhaps Art Deco-style all-text cover.” I went straight to the typeface Bifur, originally designed by Cassandre in 1929 and recreated by P22 in the 90s. The ‘Y’ letterform already looks a bit like a martini glass, it only needed minor adjustments.
About the plays: Absurdity reigns in multiple award-winning author and playwright Clem Martini’s newest collection of work: five plays spanning two decades, from 1989 to 2009. A lonely elephant handler befriends the half-blind woman who drove through his yard, a severed head in a suitcase life support system is given a second chance at life, a quiet shut-in wrestles with the jealous ghost of his wife, a young woman with the ability to smell lies struggles to make new friends, and a mismatched pod of whales in the Pacific Ocean struggle with identity, love, and interspecies dating. With a sharp tongue and impeccable comedic timing, Martini’s characters resonate beyond their impossible situations, their fears and hesitations all too human.
The other concept I was asked to mock up is a whale swimming inside a martini glass. I gave it a go, I really did, but it somehow evolved into a martini-fuelled photo shoot using the glass I was drinking from to obscure the title.
Witness to a Conga
“You really can’t say no to a conga. Ever.”
Witness to a Conga, The Oculist’s Holiday, and Happy Toes — three plays originally written for the Edmonton Fringe Festival by Stewart Lemoine — soon to be coexisting between covers. Proficiently described by the publisher as “unexpectedly emotional explorations of marriage, love, and family.” Look for copies of the book at the Fringe this summer.
In the title play, Martin Lowell’s impending wedding, and his indecisiveness on the subject of including a conga at the reception, stirs up memories of his parents’ divorce and the great, unattainable love of his life. I set out to make a simple, linear dance seem more confusing and complicated than it actually is. The footsteps give the sensation of being on the outside of the fun, observing/discerning/learning from a distance.
I considered this next sketch rejected when the playwright admitted to not seeing a pair of glasses in the set of conga drums like I intended.
Playing with dirt for a collection of plays by Ken Cameron: Harvest, My Morocco, and My One and Only.
This cover concept is my “anti-blue-sky-prairie-scene” approach: I raked loose dirt around to generate two victorian-style silhouettes. The suggested dialogue between the figures reflects the relationship between Cameron’s mother and father in the title play. All three plays have central male-female relationships actually, so it represents the collection nicely. (But unfortunately leaves Cameron’s reinvention of Marilyn Monroe out…)
Just two days before we go to print, it is decided that a pot leaf needs to make an appearance on the cover. Marijuana = shock appeal and marketability, apparently. Design briefs work much better at the beginning of the process, not at the end. Nevertheless, I went digging through the garden for art supplies, again.
I prefer my original concept, but author trumps designer on this one.
just off the press: a book containing three plays by Gordon Pengilly on the theme of human tragedy, paranoia, and violence. I created a web-like illustration that embodies the concept of metastasis as it spreads across the jacket and appears several times throughout the interior.