Kyrin Van Heise
“ Find something that you are passionate about and combine that with design.” - Paula Scher, Graphic Designer
My interest in design began back in high school when I took a simple graphic design class where we designed posters and logos. However, circumstances required me to go directly into the workforce post-graduation. It was not until I was working as a recruiter at a job fair at LWTech years later that I realized I could get a degree and begin a career in design! I love being able to create simple but beautiful pieces utilizing combinations of text and imagery. Particularly, I enjoy creating book covers and formatting layouts. My dream is to work either for a firm or as a freelancer and eventually earn my master’s degree so I can become an educator! Learning about design opened my eyes to see the world in ways that I never would have expected, and I yearn to be able to give that experience to the minds of others.
This project is meant to be the culmination of all that we have learned in our time at Lake Washington and for me, the greatest realization that I had during my time here, was a revitalization of my love of books, my passion for illustration, and my excitement over the concept of typesetting. I wanted to be able to showcase my abilities to create something interesting and marketable, while also getting to explore a little beyond any of our existing projects in the program. I had started on a different project at the beginning of the course, but after getting lost in the process, realizing I wasn’t happy, and figuring out what it was that I wanted out of this project, I changed course entirely and decided that I wanted to create a two-book set featuring the collection of The Grimm Fairy Tales, and Aesop’s Fables. These fables and stories have been taken by modern creators over the last 100 years and turned into very “cleaned up” versions of the tales. Often, these stories became something that was considered more palatable for young children per modern standards. I wanted to be able to create something that brought these tales back to their roots and would inspire a more mature audience to be able to enjoy them once again, while also staying true to my illustrative style. To do this, I created sleek and modern covers for the books, structured the typesetting on the interior, and created illustrations for each of the stories I used for my layout.
The challenge of this project was in figuring out how to create something visually interesting while maintaining the classic appearance that I wanted to capture. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just re-creating something that had been done before, but I also wanted to keep the books very true to the appearance of “classic” leather-bound books.
The biggest struggle in this process came in figuring out how to create something that looked on the screen as I imagined it would in real life. Using the right mock-ups for the project was just as important as creating the covers, themselves.
As for the interior of the books, the main challenge I faced was finding an illustration style that complemented the material, while also staying true to my drawing style.
I also wanted to make sure that the text contained in the books was as easy to read as it was aesthetically pleasing. It was important to me that I merged my modern stylings with the overall layout of older tomes.
My process included spending hours looking at various leather-bound book covers, trying to glean inspiration from them while also trying to make sure that the books I created still had a unique feeling to them. Once I felt confident that I had enough reference material, it was time to move onto sketching.
I created several sketches for potential covers and interior layouts for both books then narrowed those down and created more detailed sketches for the covers. After I had a couple of sketches that allowed me to get my ideas out on paper in a way that made sense, I began working on my first digital covers.
It took a few tries to get the covers exactly where I wanted them, but after a couple of iterations, I was happy with where they were and was able to turn them into final mock-ups. I eventually repeated this process for the interior of the books, playing with the formatting, sizing, and layout of the images and text, before creating mocks of what the pages might look like printed on a physical book.
Once I had an idea of the layout of the books, I was able to move onto the illustrations and begin the sketching process for my imagery.
My favorite part of the design process is putting together the final mock-ups of a project. It is an amazing experience to be able to see your art or your product in a “real” space. I created several mock-ups for both the interior of the books, as well as the covers. I also created a single mock of an “older” style of paper, to see what the books might look like with a more yellowed and “antique” stylized paper.
Once everything else was put together, the final steps were to create a few mock-ups that showcased the books out in the world, to give an idea of what they might look like on an actual shelf. The box set is refined enough to be set upon a shelf with other classics, but modern enough to also find a home comfortably on a bookshelf alongside newer books.
In the future, I hope to be able to create the layout and imagery for every fable and story in these two tomes and be able to send them to a printer or publisher so I can have my very own, personally designed collection of fairy tales and fables.
This project allowed me the freedom to explore my interests in design and helped me come to terms with where I want to go in the design field. I now feel much more confident in my typesetting and book-cover skills, and I am hopeful that I will be afforded the opportunity to get to design some more beautiful books in the future. It took a lot of patience and perseverance to complete this project; but at the end of the day, I now have two book covers and the beginning of two beautifully laid out book interiors that I could potentially print in the future. The greatest part of this project, however, is how it helped me rekindle my love of design and illustration. The last four years have been a long journey, full of unexpected twists and turns, but this project has been the greatest letter I could have written to my past self as motivation to keep the ball rolling. I look forward to what comes next!