Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pilgrim’s progress

Hip-deep in making prototype layouts, and I’m surprised by the amount of intense adrenaline coursing through me as I work these through.

It feels like a combination of “readiness rush”—that feeling I used to get before a track meet, the feeling of no turning back as I pelt head-first into the moment—and performance anxiety, something exacerbated by doing this project right out here in public.

But where else would I do this? As I’ve been learning more about the historic Book of Hours, how much it connected to one’s secular community as much as one’s private devotional space, I’m struck by how inadvertently appropriate it is to blog the process with you, my virtual community, close at hand.

Anyway, here’s a series of snapshots of the page layout process so far for the Shelly Lowenkopf spread. Do I know what I’m doing? Nope, at least not in the sense of planned, deliberate effort.

For example, I initially thought I’d do these spreads in a horizontal format. But my study of the historic Book of Hours led me back to a vertical format. Interestingly, my quaternary grid becomes lots more cruciform…and also much more like an iconic window…in a vertical format.

I also thought I’d be doing more drawing, but I find myself drawn to collage, at least for now.

Many folks I know could do this sort of page design through digital collage, but for some inchoate reason it’s important to me that I make things tactilely, fingers on the material.

I made a choice to use relatively commonplace material, at least for now. I find most of what makes for an interesting textural surface can be had a mass chain arts-and-crafts stores, and there’s something nicely subversive about browsing the scrap-booking aisles with Shelly’s pages in mind.

I’ll start on Rachel Barenbaum’s spreads this week, and should finish out Shelly’s spreads enough for my course in the next week or so as well.

The process is slow and very intense…not knowing where this is going, being surprised and at times frustrated by what’s happening, feels like a good thing.

To quote from Shelly’s interview, “You don’t have to know why…you have to trust you can.” In the doing, the action, there’s the trust.


Shelly Lowenkopf said...

Sounds like something I'd say.

Lori Witzel said...

Watch out! I've got gold leaf, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Glad to see you stopped by, Shelly, and pardon me as I try to dust some of this leaf off my hair...(dang, it's more floaty and delicate than campfire ash.)

am said...

Seeing what you have done so far makes me feel inexplicably grateful this morning. Thanks so much for this, Lori! Love the image of the gold leaf in the air.

annie said...

I find the current version of that page incredibly striking. The contrast between the jagged lines with the organic shape (face) and the hard likes with the text to be provoking in a very nice way.

jarvenpa said...

oh, this is lovely to watch in formation. I understand the need to have your hands on your materials; we (partner and me) put out a newspaper for which all the layout is done by old fashioned cut and paste, crooked lines and all. Our printer laughs at us, but is tolerant enough to let us continue our archaic methods.

Smiler said...

What a great project. I love your idea of taking a Christian traditions and doing your own interpretation of it while leaning on the Jewish traditions of the thing. Phew. Convoluted sentence there! But you know what I mean. I have to tell you that as an art director and designer, I like the choices you've made. There's something special about collage which in part has to do with the tactile aspect of it, but I think also that in this day and age "authenticity" has become something very rare and therefore much more valuable. And if you're going to talk about faith (or lack thereof) then your medium should be authentic.

I like that you're using simple materials too. That contrasted with the gold leaf, brilliant. Applying a drawing or photo on top of typography is a look I've always liked, especially when the text is actually related to the image and vice versa. Very nice drawing of Shelly (it is Shelly, right?).

Looks to me like you know exactly what you're doing. Great idea to be blogging it. Thank you for sharing.

Sorry, I do go on don't I?