I was at Barnes & Noble and came across this.A display of a recent book cover I did for “Things Fall Apart” with the classic books “Catcher in the Rye” and “Fahrenheit 451” on either side.It kind of knocked me over, had to stop for a while and stare.
Sometimes I’m asked about the difference between fine art and illustration and these little moments are the difference.Usually paintings stay in a gallery or a collector’s home.I like how one’s illustrations go out into the world and I’m always interested to see how they’re used and where they end up.I first got excited about illustration when I saw this precise cover for “Catcher in the Rye” while reading the book in my English class when I was a teenager.I just kept staring at the drawing of the horse, the great linework, and the simplicity of the whole cover.It’s one of the vivid memories I have of school at that time.“Catcher in the Rye” became one of my favorite books, a window into a kids’ life that was so different from mine.It’s nice to make a living illustrating, but the things that get me really excited about working as an illustrator are little moments like this one.They’re pretty insignificant, but personally very fulfilling.
Standing there looking at these books made me wonder what may happen if digital media like the Kindle or other delivery devices for books, newspapers and magazines take off.Will I be as interested in making work that will end up in a digital “delivery device”? A device that, unlike books, has no individual character?A device that doesn’t have the permanence of books?Part of the fun of shopping for books or magazines is browsing, leafing through them, seeing a book or magazine cover that strikes you and bringing it home.There are some that think these tech devices might replace books.I don’t think they will, and I hope they don’t.I think books will keep on attracting people that want to experience them.In the end, books might become more interesting.Designers might end up doing things that will make them more special, collectible, and set them apart from the digital book version, we shall see.
I’m just not sure anyone wants to go to the beach, sit back to read a story, and pull out a Kindle, ya know?