Andreja Brulc's Blog

Illustration / Part 4: Animals

Posted in Books, Children's, Illustrations, Photography by andrejabrulc on 02/11/2017

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
– George Orwell

He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.
– Emmanuel Kant

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
– Mahatma Gandhi

I’m not an animal lover if that means you think things are nice if you can pat them, but I am intoxicated by animals.
– Sir David Attenborough

00_animals-tortoiseFurther to my three recent posts on the natural world – Part 1: Trees, Part 2: Shrubs & Vines and Part 3: Flowers – I am now posting the fourth theme (out of 12 in total) that have most commonly ‘appeared’ throughout my work in order to mark my 10th anniversary of graphic design and illustration. It is the last part of the natural world focusing on animals divided into three sections – insects, birds, small and large mammals. While the majority of work shown below was done for book covers, the section on small mammals also includes artworks showing ‘a cat, a dog and a mouse at play’ for a children’s book of poetry on 12 colours called Barvice (Eng. Coloured Pencils). Finally, I am, additionally, posting the fourth section – weird and wonderful animals I encountered during the last trip to Mexico (Oaxaca), where I undertook a research as part of art residency (Nov 2012–Jan 2013) on various aspects of Mexico for the upcoming children’s picture book.

 

1. Insects

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
Muhammad Ali

I should like to present myself to the young painters of the year 2000 with the wings of a butterfly.
– Pierre Bonnard

Our treasure lies in the beehive of our knowledge. We are perpetually on the way thither, being by nature winged insects and honey gatherers of the mind.
– Friedrich Nietzsche

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.
Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.
– Pablo Picasso

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2. Birds

No one is free, even birds are chained to the sky.
Bob Dylan

Writing songs is like capturing birds without killing them. Sometimes you end up with nothing but a mouthful of feathers.
Tom Waits

A bird doesn’t sign because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.
Maya Angelou

A forest bird never wants a cage.
Henrik Ibsen

The tree I had in the garden as a child, my beech tree, I used to climb up there and spend hours. I took my homework up there, my books, I went up there if I was sad, and it just felt very good to be up there among the green leaves and the birds and the sky.
– Jane Goodall

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3. Small mammals

Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.
James Herriot

Time spent with cats is never wasted.
– Sigmund Freud

I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.
Walt Disney

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.
– Groucho Marx

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.
– Josh Billings

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4. Weird and wonderful creatures

The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.
Charles Darwin

Our task must bbe to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
– Albert Einstein

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essense of inhumanity.
– George Bernard Show

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not to die, so do other creatures.
– Dalai Lama

It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb, because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.
– Mark Twain

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Illustration / Part 3: Flowers

Posted in Books, Illustrations, Photography by andrejabrulc on 26/12/2016

The Earth laughs in flowers.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Flowers are happy things.
– P. G. Wodehouse

Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts.
– Sigmund Freud

There are always flowers for those who want to see them.
– Henri Matisse

The artist is the confidant of nature, flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms. Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards him.
– Auguste Rodin

10_flowers-daffodilAs mentioned in one of my last posts – Part 1: Trees and Part 2: Shrubs & Vines – in order to mark my 10th anniversary of graphic design and illustration, I am posting 12 themes in total that have most commonly ‘appeared’ throughout my work. To continue with the natural world, the third part is focused on the flower subject divided into the following sections – wild flowers, cultivated flowers and man-made flowers, as well as flowers as part of life cycles (birth and death).

Photography has always served me as a starting point for the process of making artworks including the flower subject. While majority of photography is accidental gathered through my travels and day trips, a small percentage is intentional depending on the aspect of a project. Also, while some of these photos were used in their entirety depending on the subject matter, many, on the other hand, were a starting point for experiments as flowers got incorporated into a new range of compositions and environments, as well as fragmented or transformed into new shapes and textures, through the use of various techniques.

 

1. Wild flowers

Wild flowers grow where they will.
– Rachel Lambert Mellon

You always have to remember – no matter what you’re told – that God loves all the flowers, even the wild ones that grow on the side of the highway.
– Cyndi Lauper

Little things seem nothing, but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odorless but all together perfume the air.
– Georges Bernanos

Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.
– Walt Whitman

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2. Cultivated flowers

I must have flowers, always, and always.
– Claude Monet

By cultivating the beautiful we scatter the seeds of heavenly flowers, as by doing good we cultivate those that belong to humanity.
– Robert A. Heinlein

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.
– Oscar Wilde

The water-lily, in the midst of waters, opens its leaves and expands its petals, at the first pattering of the shower, and rejoices in the rain-drops with a quicker sympathy than the packed shrubs in the sandy desert.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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3. Man-made flowers

I hate flowers – I paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move.
– Georgia O’Keeffe

I draw flowers every day and send them to my friends so they get fresh blooms every morning.
– David Hockney

I am following Nature without being able to grasp her, I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.
– Claude Monet

If heaven can be on the face of the earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.
– from an inscription – by Amir Khusrow (Persian poet)  – on the arches of the Diwan-i-Khas, Red Fort, Delhi

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4. Flowers as ‘life cycles’ – Birth and Death

No man can taste the fruits of autumn while he is delighting his scent with the flowers of spring.
– Samuel Johnson

You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.
– Pablo Neruda

I paint flowers so they will not die.
– Frida Kahlo

From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity.
– Edvard Munch

A dried plant is nothing but a sign to plant a new one.
– Priyansh Shah

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Illustration / Part 2: Shrubs & Vines

Posted in Books, Illustrations, Photography by andrejabrulc on 25/12/2016

A wise man in China asked his gardener to plant a shrub. The gardener objected that it only flowered once in a hundred years. “In that case,” said the wise man, “plant it immediately.”
– John Charles Polanyi, On the importance of fundamental research

A hedge between keeps friendship green.
French Proverb

As mentioned in my last posts – Part 1: Trees – in order to mark my 10th anniversary of graphic design and illustration, I shall be posting themes (12 in total) that have most commonly ‘appeared’ throughout my work. To continue with the natural world, the second part is focused on the subject of shrubs (bushes) and vines (climbers).

 

1. Shrubs

I walk in the garden, I look at the flowers and shrubs and trees and discover in them an exquisiteness of contour, a vitality of edge, or a vigour of spring, as well as an infinite variety of colour that no artefact I have seen in the last sixty years can rival…each day, as I look, I wonder where my eyes were yesterday.
– Bernard Berenson

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In contrast, Milena was extremely fastidious about the flat and her surroundings–from the reproductions on the walls to the flowers, in vases and in window-boxes on the balcony. Those in the window-boxes we grew from seed, those in the vases were obtained in various ways: sometimes Milena would buy them, sometimes she was given them and sometimes we would take them from the cemetery wall or the gardens in Lobkowitz Square. One evening we were caught cutting roses by a park-attendant when we already had a fine bunch. But Milena managed to persuade him that we were actually pruning the bushes and getting rid of the excess blooms–’overgrown buds’ she called them–which merely sapped the plant’s strength. It was a creditable piece of rhetoric on her part: it is no mean feat, late in the evening, that what you are engaged in at that particular hour is caring for the appearance of the public gardens and that your bunch of half-open buds are merely ‘overgrown buds’ which you have pruned for the good of the bush. It took her some time, but she managed it somehow in the end, and as we were leaving the poor chap actually thanked us and expressed regret that there were no more people like us in the city. I tend to agree with him on that point. But if I were to be asked to repeat all that Milena told him that evening, I would be at a loss. I merely realised what was meant by ‘the art of public relations’ and from that day forth was never in any doubt about Milena’s mastery in that respect.
– Franz Kafka, Letters to Milena (1920–23)

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2. Vines

Every flower about a house certifies to the refinement of somebody. Every vine climbing and blossoming tells of love and joy.
– Robert G. Ingersoll

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Illustration / Part 1: Trees

Posted in Books, Children's, Illustrations, Photography by andrejabrulc on 03/10/2016

I feel like a tree. A tree doesn’t feel a duty to start doing something about the earth from which it comes. A tree just has to bear fruit, and leaves and blossoms. It doesn’t feel grateful to the earth.
– Abbas Kiarostami

I think the tree is an element of regeneration which in itself is a concept of time.
– Joseph Beuys

14_trees-lonley-treeTo mark my 10th anniversary of graphic design and illustration, I shall be posting 12 themes that have most commonly ‘appeared’ throughout my work – something that I only realised while gathering material for the new website during the summer. The fact that the largest body of artworks I have created thematically for different projects consists of trees, to a ‘tree hugger’ this came as no surprise but rather as a satisfying delight! While most of these artworks were created for Beletrina book covers (a literary imprint of Beletrina Academic Press, Slovenia) and for art/children’s picture book projects where I was able to influence the decision-making in the image creation, I have recently been involved with other projects that specifically required ‘tree’ related artworks – a school textbook for the CAPE (Unit 2) Geography (A-level) for the Caribbean Educational Publishers, Trinidad & Tobago and a website, Bean’s Trees and Shrubs, for the International Dendrology Society, UK.

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I had been photographing trees well before I embarked on a career change from the art world in 2006. I have been particularly interested in their various forms (exploring light and shadow, shapes and textures) and in their different settings (geographical locations and climates), as well as viewing them from a range of natural conditions (growing and decaying) and that of human impact on them (signage, graffiti and incisions). While some of these photos were used in their entirety depending on the subject matter, many, on the other hand, served as a starting point for experiments as the trees got incorporated into a new range of compositions and environments, as well as fragmented or transformed into new shapes and textures, through the use of various techniques. The tree subject is divided into sections – forests, lonely trees, crowns, trunks, branches, leaves and roots – depending on a particular project.

 

1. Forests

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity … and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.
– William Blake

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.
– John Muir

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2. Solitary trees

Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.
– Winston Churchill

I have to stay alone in order to fully contemplate and feel nature.
– Caspar David Friedrich

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3. Crowns

A tree against the sky possesses the same interest, the same character, the same expression as the figure of a human.
– Georges Rouault

No traveler, whether a tree lover or not, will ever forget his first walk in a sugar-pine forest. The majestic crowns approaching one another make a glorious canopy, through the feathery arches of which the sunbeams pour, silvering the needles and gilding the stately columns and the ground into a scene of enchantment.
– John Muir

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4. Trunks

If you look closely at a tree you’ll notice it’s knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully.
– Matthew Fox

Just touching that old tree was truly moving to me because when you touch these trees, you have such a sense of the passage of time of history. It’s like you’re touching the essence, the very substance of life.
– Kim Novak

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5. Branches

I often lay on that bench looking up into the tree, past the trunk and up into the branches. It was particularly fine at night with the stars above the tree.
– Georgia O’Keeffe

Instinct must be thwarted just as one prunes the branches of a tree so that it will grow better.
– Henri Matisse

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6. Leaves

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
– Albert Camus

Matisse draws what I call the essence of the plants. He leaves a shape open. He’ll do a leaf and not close it. Everybody used to say, oh, I got it all from Matisse, and I said, ‘Not really.’
– Ellsworth Kelly

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7. Roots

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
– Marcus Garvey

You can’t hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree. You can’t hate Africa and not hate yourself.
– Malcolm X

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If a tree dies, plant another in its place.
– Carolus Linnaeus

Illustration: The Nonexistent Knight / Book Cover / Italo Calvino

Posted in Books, Illustrations by andrejabrulc on 30/03/2014

IC_neobstojeci vitez_jacketThis paper cut-out illustration was made for the book cover of the Slovene translation of The Nonexistent Knight (Il cavaliere inesistente), written by the Italian author Italo Calvino (1959) and published by Beletrina (2014). The novel – together with The Cloven Viscount (Il visconte dimezzato) (1952) and The Baron in the Trees (Il barone rampante) (1957) – forms a ‘heraldic trilogy’ titled as Our Ancestors (I nostri antenati) (1960). The Nonexistent Knight is an allegorical fantasy novel – the theme explores the questions of identity, integration with society, and virtues through the adventures of a medieval knight called Agilulf.

The source for the plot

The plot of the narrative is strengthened by the material drawn from the medieval literary cycle known as the Matter of France. The cycle developed from the Old French chansons de geste [‘songs of heroic deeds’] – a medieval narrative, a type of epic poetry that flourished between the 11th and 15th centuries and that celebrated the legendary heroic deeds, such as The Song of Roland (La Chanson de Roland). The Song of Roland is the oldest surviving major work of French literature (Oxford manuscript, mid 12 century), which, together with the Spanish Poem of the Cid (Cantar de Mio Cid) (1195–1207), represents the most outstanding example of the chanson de geste. The cycle, also called the Carolingian cycle, is a body of literature and legendary material associated with the history of France during the time of Charlemagne – a Christian King of France (from 768) and the first Holy Roman Emperor (800–814) – and his twelve fictional paladins (12 Peers). The cycle praises their ‘heroic deeds’ accomplished through various military campaigns against the Moorish invasion of the Christian Carolingian Empire from the Muslim Spain (Umayyad Moors of Al-Andalus), particularly recalling historical events such as the Battle of Roncevaux Pass (778) in the buffer zone of Marca Hispanica. The plot also references the Renaissance epic poem of Ludovico Ariosto‘s Orlando Furioso (1516).

IC_neobstojeci vitez

The theme of the narrative

The story, which relativises different ways of existence in the world through a network of intertextual citations and inimitable wit, is set into the imaginary Middle Ages, but the imaginary world is not far from the reality of modern man. Agilulf is one of the twelve paladins in the military service of Charlemagne out of his ‘goodwill and faith for the holy cause’. As a knight, he exemplifies virtues of chivalry, piety and faithfulness through his heroic deeds – he thus serves as a role model to those (e.g. Rambaldo) who aspire to knighthood and as an object of envy to those paladins unable to surpass his excellence. The narrative represents him as a righteous, perfectionist, faithful and pious knight – his only problem is that he exists as an empty suit of white armour. Inside his empty armour, which is always shiny and immaculate on the outside as seen by the others, is an echoing voice that reverberates through the metal. But the knight cannot exist without his armour (i.e. his identity) – if he removes the armour, he is no longer a paladin, while the other knights can remove their armour, because in fact they are not ‘true’ paladins. Towards the end of the story, in order to destroy Agilulfo, the other paladins deny his deeds – unable to fight the forced oblivion, Agilulfo, therefore, vanishes leaving only his armour. After he is vanished, his shiny armour, now appropriated by Ramboldo, turns to be opaque and dirty. His servant Gurdulù, on the other hand, is a complete contrast to his master. He does exist, but his is unaware of his existence – his identity, depicted in most bizarre forms and in chaotic situations, is overgrown with everything that he sees, feels and experiences from the outside world.

The identity of Agilulfo, therefore, exists only as the fulfilment of the rules and protocols of knighthood. It has been argued that such a theme set in an imaginary medieval world is exploited as a metaphor that is strongly connected to modern conditions – according to Margareth Hagen, Agilulf has been described as “the symbol of the ‘robotized’ man, who performs bureaucratic acts with near-absolute unconsciousness” [‘La seduzione del cavaliere inesistente’ in Romansk Forum 2002, 16:875–885]. The romance satirises Agilulf as the ideal man yet nonexistent – as the reader progresses through the story, one realises that most of the story is being made up by Sister Theodora, who, as a nun, is writing the story and drawing the map of the knight’s adventures as her own penance tucked away in a monastery. In the end, she understands that such a perfect knight could only exist in one’s imagination.

Making of the illustration

My illustration concentrates on two elements only: the knight and the imaginary landscape. My main source of inspiration, bearing in mind the adventures of the knight in the landscape, was drawn on the famous Italian medieval wall painting in Sienna – a huge fresco of the equestrian Portrait of Guidoricco da Fogliano, painted by Simone Martini in 1330 in the Sala del Mappamondo of the Palazzo Pubblico, as part of the fresco cycle called ‘Castelli’ commemorating the castles conquered by the Republic of Sienna. While reading Calvino, I could not resist but create an imaginary parallel of his knight to Martini’s condottiere. The fresco of this professional military leader, shown in profile in order to emphasise ‘the ideal image’ of the sitter as was the norm in Italian portraiture at the time, celebrates his conquest of the castles of Montemassi and Sassoforte in 1328 in the service of the commune.

Simone Martini_Guidaricco de Foliagno

The description of Agilulf’s armour – anachronistic to the time of Charlemagne as the white armour, a form of plate armour, was fully developed only by 1420 and was popular among the late Medieval and Renaissance knights – constantly recurs throughout the narrative as soon as the knight comes on the scene. I used an old engraving showing a Renaissance knight on horse, which perfectly fits with the description. Just like the condottiere, Agilulf is a well-composed perfect knight of excellence strolling calmly through the landscape, full of self-confidence and with no obstructions from the outside world. The most outstanding detail of his armour that impressed me most is the plume on top of his helmet described as: ‘the plume made of feathers, from who knows which Oriental rooster, which changes to all colours of the rainbow’! Whether or not one would read this statement as politically incorrect, I took it literally. But rather than making the plume turn into 7 colours of the rainbow, I turned the top of the knight’s lance into the flag of typography – the author and title – using the font Memoriam that flamboyantly emphasises the idea of the flag as if moving in the wind and making some letters change into the 7 colours of the rainbow.

Granada_Book of Navigation_Piri Reis_1521-1525With regard to the imaginary landscape, it seems obvious that the background colour of the landscape, and the shapes of hills and architecture, in my illustration resemble the stylised treatment of the landscape in the Sienese fresco. But my visual thinking developed further from the fresco that shows the landscape from the frontal view. In order to emphasise the map drawing of Sister Theodora, I imagined that the landscape must be seen from the bird’s-eye view – a flat world as depicted in the mappa mundi of the Middle Ages. My inspiration for the landscape topography, therefore, in many ways resembles the detail of Granada, a fragment from the first pre-modern world map of 1513, compiled by the Ottoman admiral and cartographer Piri Reis and published in his Book of Navigation (Kitab-ı Bahriye) (1521–25).

However, at this point of the process, I remembered my old visual diary from the trip to Rajasthan (India) in 2004 and various doodles of the landscape of Jaipur, topped with hill forts and walls marked by battlements (a parapet with crenellation) (photos below). So, instead of placing the knight in a detailed but imaginary landscape of medieval Europe, the concertina with a paper cut-out silhouette of the Jaipur hills became the final source for my illustration showing the bare but imaginary landscape – an ideal setting for the perfect but nonexistant knight. It is, however, likely that Martini’s treatment of landscape subconsciously sprang to mind during my adventures in Rajasthan!

Indian Sketchbook_Jaipur Forts_2004

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Beletrina book cover designs / Feb & Dec 2013 & February 2014

Posted in Books by andrejabrulc on 28/02/2014

Beletrina ’36 Top’ Book Covers / 2007–2011

Posted in Books by andrejabrulc on 06/10/2013

A selection of ’36 top’ book covers made in March 2012 for my ‘artist-in-residence’ application in Oaxaca, Mexico. The book covers were produced during my first five years of the Beletrina contract (2007–2011). My statement for this selection made in the application is below.

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Statement

The largest body of work I have produced, often involving crafts in the context of contemporary art and design, consists of designs and illustrations for book covers for Beletrina, a major literary imprint of the Slovene publisher Beletrina Academic Press.

In Nov 2006, having just finished my professional studies at the London University of the Arts, I won a public competition in Slovenia to become principal cover designer and illustrator for the imprint, and after nearly six years in this role I will have created from my London home around 200 book covers. The publisher, subsidised by public and private funds, has gained its reputation primarily by introducing prominent works of contemporary national and world literature to Slovene readers, including Mexican authors such as Octavio Paz and Sergio Pitol. The publisher’s goal is to set standards for a new publishing philosophy which, in addition to focusing on non commercial titles and giving priority to inventiveness, freshness and directness, respects authors and invests a considerable effort in the promotion of their work. Their philosophy and my close-knit relationship with the publisher has helped me to develop a highly individual and recognisable style and branding for the imprint over the last nearly six years.

The branding is defined by a central stripe of a single colour with separate but unified design elements above and below. The artwork encompasses the entire jacket. The whole collection is uniform in style, but at the same time each book is visually distinct as each requires a different response in method and technique depending on the content of the book – I am a passionate reader, so all the books are read before I get to visual thinking in the sketchbook, creating artwork and finalising the book for print!

Designs involve mixed media including photography, drawing and silhouette, montage and collage (cut and paste techniques), the use of typography, organic and man-made textures and patterns, textile, threads and so on. The illustrations in particular often use traditional craft techniques such as hand printing, stitching and patchwork, embroidery, knitting and crocheting, and industrial materials such as sandpaper and scrim tape. I also apply traditional techniques to unusual materials and use new techniques with traditional materials. I experiment with different possibilities in which images are juxtaposed in a tense relationship to one another and blended together through mixed media, thus creating different realities and perceptions through the interplay of natural forms, narrations and emotions. The choice of using the traditional crafts as a subversive technique is primarily in order to respond to the content of the book but at the same time to explore and challenge certain traditional ideas ad taboos, expressed in that content, that are deeply rooted in our society, such as cultural, political, social and geographical situations.

Beletrina book cover designs / August 2013

Posted in Books by andrejabrulc on 20/08/2013

Beletrina book cover designs / June 2011 & August 2013

Posted in Books by andrejabrulc on 03/08/2013

Beletrina book cover designs / April 2013

Posted in Books by andrejabrulc on 23/04/2013
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