A Designer’s Journal from the Designer of my Books, Diana Souza: March 5, 2007
Image: the book cover for Visits with Angels and Other Divine Beings designed by Diana Souza.
My book designer/illustrator and friend, Diana Souza, sent me this entry in answer to my questions about the progress she is making on the new books Visits with Angels and Other Divine Beings and Realms of Light:
A DESIGNER'S JOURNAL
by Designer/Illustrator Diana Souza
A Designer's Journal is a glimpse, an offering to Laurie and her readers, into the process of designing her next books, now in progress. This will be a way for us to keep you readers up to date about the production which will lead, finally, to three new books.
AN IRONIC TIMING
First of all, I'm many thousands of miles away from Laurie, even though we're only an email from each other's minds and still very much together at heart. Timing has been a bit awkward so far on this project. Creativity has its own quirks of fluidity, or lack thereof. The covers of the next three books were produced over a period of six weeks in Ithaca in 2004. Editing the books took two years past that. The finished manuscripts came to me, happily and unfortunately, during the very month that another major project, slated to take about 2.5 years, landed on my workstation. For the erratic nature of this timing, I apologize. It was a rude twist of Destiny but that's what we've had to deal with, ironic as it seems.
I'm now in production, after having acclimatized myself to the many flaming hoops to be jumped through. It's a juggling act now, producing these books while teaching college, staying firmly on the cutting edge as a designer & multimedia producer, along with the basics of living a fairly well organized life in a big city. Doing all this at once feels like trying to keep frogs in a wheelbarrow. They just keep jumping out and I have to keep chasing the slippery little scamps down and tossing them back in. But I think I'm starting to get the rhythm. It's exciting, faster than I'm used to, though with all the frogs to keep track of, each task takes a little longer just by virtue of there being MORE tasks in motion.
DESIGN, AN INTERPRETIVE DANCE
Turning a manuscript into a book is so much more than copying text blocks onto a page. Turning a manuscript into a book is an act of making ideas visible. Those ideas-made-visible need to match the tone that the book is written in, and that's the heart of this task. A good designer is an interpreter, turning thoughts and emotions, inspirations and reveries into compositions that can carry the feelings in the words through to the physical plane. It's an act of channeling, in a way, manifesting visuals from abstract ideas.
Doing this channeling for someone you know really well, for someone you hold in very high regard, whose work is charged with the highest consciousness, carries an imperative of no small weight. At the same time, it's a perfect challenge, because our experience together as meditators, friends, collaborators, and soul companions on the Path gives me an intuitive access to Laurie that I don't get from other people I design for.
CAPTURING THE VISION
Designing The Spiritual Life of Animals & Plants was an act of delicacy and restraint, to create a look that would harmonize with its lyrical tone and charmed stories. It also wasn't a very long manuscript, so I had to design it with a lot of white space and ornamental elements. It had a vintage storybook feel.
Now at hand is the design of Realms of Light. It's a much longer manuscript and a far more serious one than The Spiritual Life of Animals & Plants. It doesn't fit into a storybook look. Though there are a few stories about animals, most of its stories are about people, so this gives the book a weighted, more pensive tone. It's still ethereal, though, and that's the fusion I'm trying to forge in the visuals.
Once the vision is captured, it's a walk in the park. And I believe that I'm just a few pixels away from that capture. The task is to establish a visual theme based on a series of illustrated ornaments. Despite my intentions to use variations on the ornaments I created for The Spiritual Life of Animals & Plants, the vining plant borders and plant and animal icons just don't work with this book's thematic tone. However, what I'm finding out is that clouds DO. With a title like Realms of Light the feeling being reached for in the manuscript is lofty and uplifted, not really earthy. So I'm creating some etching-styled cloud images that fit into the chapter title pages like mastheads. They have a sense of radiant lightness and upliftedness that I can't get from plant forms.
Samples of the etched cloud mastheads........ !
And more notes about the progress of the design of Realms of Light.
5 March 2007