Cover by Jungyeon Roh
Two hundred and eighty eight editions of the new American Illustration Annual have handmade covers, created by 45 different artists and illustrators. Overseen by creative director Richard Turley, the project saw much ink, a lot of paint and several naked men…
Cover by Matt Dorfman
As the creative director of Bloomberg Businessweek, Turley is used to tight deadlines. But having a single weekend to realise his aim of creating over 200 unique editions of the latest American Illustration Annual must have been quite the challenge.
But from the film of the event, shown at the bottom of this post, it looks like it went like a breeze: illustrators are sat and stood here and there, drawing and painting, even drilling into various copies of AI32. According to Turley, the idea for the project was about taking a relatively small run of books and seeing if they could be made into “an event” to support this year’s Annual.
Working from the theme of ‘nakedness’ – and the idea that competitions facilitate a kind of ‘self-exposure’ – Turley says he invited several male life models on site, which the illustrators would then be able to work with should they choose to do so. The life drawing would also provide a central thread which would hold the covers together.
“To be judged by your peers (or anyone) is fairly unpleasant,” says Turley, “the idea of exhibiting your work, your ‘self’. Out of that tenuous thought; naked men felt far more interesting to see than naked women.
“When we did the event we had life models. Some used them, most didn’t. Quite a few people came to the event with a fairly fixed idea of what they were going to do, which was fine. Some used the human form, some didn’t. We were asking people to give their time and their work for free, and that sort of generosity isn’t best repaid by forcing people to draw naked men. In fact if I learnt anything from this, I learnt you can’t force people to draw naked men. (Though perhaps I’ll bank that idea for another project).”
Around twenty artists each created three or more editions over two days from a studio space set up in New York, while others, including Paula Scher and Bob Gill, contributed single editions. Peter Arkle, for example, drew himself naked (twice) over ten books. Shown below are a selection of images of the artists at work, plus several of the finished covers.
Cover by Marcellus Hall
Cover by Al Murphy
Above, editions of the American Illustration Annual ready to be worked on. Monica Ramos, below, adds detail to one of her copies.
Of the paper used on the cover, Turley says that they had wanted something off-white and that would work with a range of materials. “We were lucky with the cover stock,” he says. “Complete accident. For some reason, for me, off-white paper = expensive. Plus, it’s not passive. You see the paper, acknowledge it, rather than it only being a vehicle for the work.
“I wanted these books to feel hefty and valuable, to be proper pieces of serious design. Then to have people deface the cover. Violate this precious object. A lot of the artists loved the paper. It seemed to take whatever
medium you threw at it very well.”
Below, Monica Ramos adds some fine detail to one of her covers.
Chris Feczko (above) works on one of his books. He also produced the edition shown, below.
Ellen Weinstein (above) with four of her covers – a fifth is shown, below.
Peter Arkle working away, below, and a finished cover below that.
Serge Bloch produced the following two covers in his batch – and his materials he used on the day are shown below that.
And here are some more of the finished covers:
Cover by Al Murphy
Cover by Deanne Cheuk
Covers by Edel Rodriquez
Covers by Franca Barone
Cover by Judy Chung
Cover by Jenn Steffey
Cover by Jon Burgerman
Back cover by Jungyeon Roh
Cover by Matt Dorfman
Cover by Pablo Delcan
Cover by Richard Turley
Cover by Jordan Awan
Cover by You Byun
The artists and illustrators who worked on the covers project were Peter Arkle, Jordan Awan, Rose Bake, Marian Bantjes, Franca Barone, Nicholas Blechman, Serge Bloch, Mirko Borsche, Ethan Buller, Jon Burgerman, You Byun, André Carrilho, Deanne Cheuk, Judy Chung, Jennifer Daniel, Pablo Delcán, Matt Dorfman, Arem Duplessis, Chris Feczko, Ed Fella, Adrian Forrow, Bob Gill, Carin Goldberg, Steven Guarnaccia, Marcellus Hall, Scott King, Nora Krug, Tim Lahan, Pearce Marchbank Studio, Al Murphy, Victo Ngai, Other Means, m/m Paris, Monica Ramos, Rand Renfrow, Edel Rodriguez, Jungyeon Roh, Laurie Rosenwald, Jonny Ruzzo, Paula Scher, Chris Sharp, Tamara Shopsin, Jenn Steffey, Ellen Weinstein and Paul Windle.
According Mark Heflin, editor and director of AI-AP, the books will be sent out to those who purchased an advance discount copy of the AI32 book earlier this year (the receipient will not know what edition they have until they open the package). Subsequent orders will be fulfilled with the print edition which has a cover created by Jon Han.