Andreja Brulc's Blog

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.

1 part_2007-2011 2 part_2007-2011

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.

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Illustration: On the Swing / Book Cover / Italo Calvino

Posted in Books, Craft, Illustrations by andrejabrulc on 20/09/2010

IC_Baron na drevesu_Jacket_FrameThis stitched embroidery, titled as On the Swing (2010), is a part of a larger illustration made for book The Baron in the Trees (Il barone rampante) written by the Italian author Italo Calvino. The author creates a fantasy world immersed in history, philosophy and politics at the time of Voltaire. Described as conte philosophique and a metaphor for independence, the book tells us the adventures of a boy called Cosimo who, as next in line for the title of Baron, resists the authority of his parents when 12 years old – he refuses to eat a dinner of snails prepared by his sadistic sister Batista and rejects his comfortable aristocratic childhood by climbing up a tree adjacent to the dining room. He spends the rest of his life inhabitating an arboreal kingdom. The story is narrated by his younger brother Biagio. Set in Liguria near the French Riviera, the two brothers belong to the 18th century nobility, whose family estate is located in the vast forest landscape of Ombrosa. Cosimo discovers that the more he distances himself from others in order to see them from a new point of view, the more he is able to help the society. His love for a young woman named Viola, the daughter of the Marquis next door, in feud with the Cosimo’s family, changes the course of the lives of everyone: Cosimo, Viola, Biagio, and the community of Ombrosa.

The cover illustration – which combines mixed media by collaging photography, distressed paper and historical textures, print-making and outlined stitching – reflects the direct meaning of the book and its setting. It depicts the most memorable scene in which Viola, while sitting on her swing holding an apple, is taken by surprise at her first vision of the sudden appearance of Cosimo on the tree. She drops the apple and her shoe. The swing is set near the wall that physically divides the two estates, here reinforced by the stripe across the cover, and surrounded by the white magnolia, mulberry and oak trees. The scene is further set against the silhouette of the veduta of Ombrosa. The use of the two 18-century paintings by Watteau and Fragonard as a source for outlining the characters’ sihouettes using the traditional craft of stitching has two purposes: on the one hand, it is intended to reinforce the historical setting through the traditional forms (the tradition of the nobility), while, on the other hand, by subverting the painting’s context through the use of stitching and placing it into a different context, the idea of creating a new meaning is evoked showing the ‘new’ world (rebellious child breaking from the tradition).Marquisa on the Swing

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