This past year I’ve had the honor of working closely with Ken Field and Wes Jones creating illustrations for Ken’s book, Cartography.
It was an opportunity to learn a lot in a rather short amount of time. The breakthrough moment, I believe, for the team was when Ken described his hope for each page to potentially stand on its own as a poster that someone might legitimately want to put on their wall. I think that, sort of ironically, freed us somewhat from the intimidation of creating cold diagrammatic textbook illustrations. That’s when the raw fun of it all became apparent. And it was fun.
This was also my first practical experience with Illustrator, and any sort of for-print illustration, so the learning curve of CMYK/gutters/bleed was sometimes daunting.
Now that it’s printed, cut, bound, stacked, and shipped, I feel like I can burst up from the water and take a big gasp of air and think, what a rush! I can only imagine at how Ken feels.
Throughout the process my sense of Ken’s abilities to distill, explain, and invent grew from admiration to awe in the manner that only close collaboration can afford. Few could write and illustrate a book of this sort. Ken’s is an intellectual and practical understanding of cartography.
This was my first chance working with Wes Jones, and it was a real pleasure. Invariably, Wes would take and idea for a spread in an ethereal and artistic direction that I couldn’t have. And after seeing his charming and brilliant illustrations, I felt some chagrin at recalling what I might have done with the same topic. His ideas and feedback improved my own illustrations greatly, too.
I think there’s an interwoven, but distinct, design sense that the three of us contributed which results in an interesting variability within a tall stack of pages. It will be rewarding to flip through it and feel that more tangibly.
It was a lot of fun.
Where else could I get away with color chips in the style of Mark Rothko?
Or try to get in the professorial mind of Dr. Field?
Happy Reading! John