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


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.

Illustration: Simona / Book Cover / Michel Houellebecq

Posted in Books, Craft, Illustrations by andrejabrulc on 01/05/2009

Print Layout 1This embroidery, titled as Simona (2007), is a part of the illustration made for the book The Possibility of an Island by the controversial French author Michel Houellebecq. The illustration closely reflects the narrative of the book, which centres on a cloning cult, preoccupied with a genetic modification and ever-lasting human love without pain and emotion, with a strong belief that the human race can be saved from ageing, physical and psychological suffering and dying, through the creation of a new and better one. The main protagonist, Daniel, is a successful misanthrope stand-up comedian, whose “success”, built on politically incorrect jokes about racism, paedophilia and torture, is measured with a luxury villa in Spain and a full bank account. He lives in a hysterical society of unlimited sexual freedom, where there is no space for the ugly, the poor and the weak, or for the old and the dying. He is bored with his hedonist lifestyle, but he cannot escape from it. After his two unsuccessful love affairs – with one woman, who does not like sex, and with the other, who does not like love – he seemingly finds immortal earthly pleasures in the sect that believes in advanced extra-terrestrials. Simona

The illustration focuses on the story, told through Daniel (No. 1), a dog and a woman, which is interwoven with commentaries from two clones, Nos. 24 and 25, two thousand years from now. The two clones live in a time – identified by unemotional background (sandpaper) – when the human species is struggling to survive in the face of climate change and nuclear war. Advanced technology and biological science are counterposed by the use of traditional materials and techniques – silhouetting, stitching and sandpaper. The three Daniels are identified by typographical numbers, while the silhouetting of the clones as seemingly identical male figures was to emphasis the genetic modification – the effect achieved by spraying the template of a figure on the sandpaper and then replicating it digitally. I intended to make them seem the same and visually receding from the foreground into the distance as if progressing through time and space.

Spraying the figure on the abrasive surface of the sandpaper, the material used in decorative crafts, such as for smoothing the wood, was to reinforce a paradox: future genetic modification of human cell, which, on the one hand, is still very much controversial on moral grounds, while, on the other hand, it is a result of the inevitable technological advancement pushing its boundaries, and in particular showing a global competition in science between the dominant countries of the developed world. Another tension is demonstrated by the traditional stitching used to outline the fragility of the female in the social order of the book, thus making her more human than her male counterpart, juxtaposed by the image of the dog. In the novel, one feels that love between the woman and the man is equated with human love for the pet, shown here by the use of photography as only the dog seems to be real, perhaps a symbol of true love.

Print Layout 1

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