Earlier this year our studio was commissioned to create a one-of-a-kind collectors set of illustrated classic novels and stories for Amazon/CreateSpace. Because of the time sensitive nature of the project (we had roughly 4 months to create 20 illustrated classics with 4 lovely boxes to hold the various sets) we were quickly summoned to CreateSpace’s Charleston office where we met with the core team for the job and discussed the parameters and logistics of taking on and completing such a huge project.
In anticipation of the meeting we designed all 4 boxes and a few of the covers and created fully mocked up “dummies” to show the team. We conceived of a slip case with a magnetic lid that would house the books and also reveal the first title of each volume through a die-cut hole. There was no real way to describe this feature, so we had to show them how we figured the boxes would function. In about 4 days time we created the designs, and in another 4 days we had boxes ready, just in the nic of time to present at the meeting.
The designs and concept for the slipcase box functionality were met with great enthusiasm. The core design that was presented during that meeting is what remained as the basic final design through to completion (we did played around with various colors and font choices). So that was out of the way, so to speak. The next big deal was finding the right illustrators for the interiors, and figuring out a reasonable amount of illustrations to spread out through the book to make it a worthy collectors piece, and at the same time practical within the time-frame.
We looked at TONS of illustrators work and narrowed it down to 6. In the end we went with Jacqui Oakley from Canada and Ross MacDonald from New York. Their styles were literary enough and had a certain charm that we were looking for that seemd to fit the subject matter, yet could give it a contemporary twist at the same time. Jacqui did the illustrations for the Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes collections, and Ross did the two “youth” sets, the Enchanted Collection and the Adventures Collection. The styles were perfect for the books.
The general process was that we received a slew of rough sketches that were then adjusted and inked and approved again prior to coloring. It’s a damn miracle how the two of them were able to complete nearly 150 illustrations each, with revisions and adjustments, and all the back and forth, in such a short period of time.
And keep in mind that we needed to hire image researchers to figure out what to illustrate and how to sequence the illustrations so they would flow nicely, and give a good idea of the whole story. It was an art in and of itself, as many of these books had great scenes that we would have loved to illustrate, but it would have bulked the books out too much, and ultimately, we would not be able to meet our deadline.
In the meantime, while the art was being made, Alan and Ian of theBookDesigners designed 20 covers and interiors and 4 six-sided boxes. All the books and boxes have spot colors and all the covers and boxes are printed on Buckram with debossing/embossing. Running production was a quite a challenge, to say the least, and took many sleepless nights to complete—not to mention last minute changes all the way up until printing time. Needless to say, we completed it on time and they look rather stunning if we may say so ourselves. Enjoy and by all means—buy them!