What makes a good illustration? To me, the aim is to create an atmosphere that matches what the writer had in mind, and to support the reader by adding your thoughts and interpretations to the text through image. A good illustration can say much more than what is literally written while a bad one can ruin the experience – at least aesthetically.
While working with the Miranda July’s short story The man on the stairs (2004), I wanted to find a balance between not overexplaining what is written in the story and having illustrations that are deeply connected to the text.
The assignment was to support and express the story through a set of illustrations. In response, I tried to create a mood that blurs the boundary between reality and imagination. The story is told by an unreliable narrator who drifts in an out of reality and across many different timelines. This inspired me to push my illustrations into a more abstract direction.
Working in black and white gave me the chance to play with negative space. The optical illusions archived by that mirror the protagonist's troubled state of mind. Their feeling of insecurity is also expressed by highly asymetric compositions and the lack of fixed perspective.
I integrated the text into the illustrations to produce more engaging spreads, but the images are also designed to work well independently for online publication.