Designer: Jim Tierney
Typefaces: Hand Drawn, Memphis and Bodoni for flaps.
Around the World in 80 Days
Journey to the Center of the Earth
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
From the Earth to the Moon
Jim talks about his process.
In the illustration department at the University of the Arts, a major portion of the senior year is dedicated to a 4-part thesis project. The project culminates in a class-wide exhibit and competition for the William H. Ely award. Thusly is this project affectionately known as “The Ely”. Each student must choose a market to work in, and prepare a project proposal.
Being equal parts book-nerd and design-nerd, I naturally decided to re-design some classic Jules Verne novels. I‘m a big Verne fan, but a chance to re-design any classic book is always exciting. Classics usually allow for a more personal interpretation, since most people are already vaguely familiar with the premise of the books, and I didn’t have to compete with one well-known cover, as I might have with a more recent book.
I knew right away that I wanted to incorporate some extra elements into this series. My first idea was to have a uniform construction for all four, consisting of a patterned jacket that would unfold into a poster, and a book-band.
I still like the idea of this series, but it didn’t really allow me to go as far as I wanted to with the concepts for each book.
Still clinging to the idea of uniformity, I tried a more illustrative approach, with each book featuring a half-jacket and full-color cover. At this point I was only focusing on rough sketches the first two books of the series: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Once again, the uniform construction really limited the concepts. My instructor, Joe Didomenico, suggested I forget about the construction and focus solely on concept for each book. That night I filled a sketchbook with brand new ideas, and finally things started to come together
The breakthrough came when I decided to handle each book with a different construction (an ambitious and tiring task, I would soon realize). For 20,000 Leagues I stuck with the half-jacket idea. The idea to use Captain Nemo’s diving helmet on the jacket, with the emerging tentacles works well to hint at Nemo’s subtle, sinister nature, while the sunken ruins and monster squid hidden below the jacket mimic the book’s constant atmosphere of mystery and exploration.
For Journey to the Center of the Earth, I decided to print the soil color on a jacket of translucent film. The film, placed against the light colors of the cover, shows dinosaur bones and fossils. Printed on the cover itself, and barely visible through the film, are some more peculiar artifacts, like giant skeletons and weapons, which hint at some of the more surprising discoveries made in the story.
Working with these new concepts, my sketches came together pretty quickly:
From this point, the rest of the work went pretty smoothly. For Around the World in 80 Days, I decided to use a spin-wheel featuring destinations visited by the characters. The idea is that as you read the book, you can turn the dial to match your progress. I wasn’t too happy with the trompe l’ouille look of the cover sketch with envelopes and money. Luckily, my brilliant girlfriend Sara suggested making the cover one big stamp, since I was already using postage as a theme. This beautiful solution really pulled the piece together.
I had a specific Idea for From the Earth to the Moon right away, and sketched it out pretty quickly. I stayed with the “interactive papercraft” idea, and used a sliding tab to reveal the rocket. After a day or two, however, I wasn’t happy with how the hand and rocket were pointing downward, so I switched the position of the Earth and the Moon for a better read.
The Ely exhibit will show at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia from April 6th to 20th, with the reception on April 18th. The show will be full of talented young illustrators, so if you can make it to Philadelphia, you should really come and see it.
This project was only made possible through the support and suggestions of my better half Sara Wood, as well as my instructors Joe Didomenico, Jon Reinfurt, Matt Curtius & Gina Triplett, Eleanor Grosch, and Ralph Giguere.
2.15.10 // Ian said:
"Look at me! I'm Jim Tierney! I'm so cool! I make pretty books that do cool interactive stuff!..."
I'm kidding, but I am slightly pissed. I mean the man basically made some winners here. very wonderful quality to the books illustrations, the book plus features as well as the typography and color tones. It all sings and I guess my only wish is that they would be for sale so i could buy them and proudly display on my shelf. I guess we'll have to wait for Penguin to make thew move and hire the guy—right our of school...
OK, I'm done being bitter. The guy is a genius. bravo.
2.16.10 // Shorty said:
thanks so much for posting this.
2.17.10 // Jesse Kuhn said:
Absolutely gorgeous, bravo! I really want to add this to my library, please
pitch it to Penguin asap!
2.17.10 // Cathie Joy said:
Wow! These are breath taking! fabulous job. So clever and beautiful. I agree with the other guy ~ would be nice to have.
2.17.10 // Michael Kellner said:
Holy Hetzel! Fantabulous, splendiferous, pulchritudinous! And perfectly wonderful. Remarkable concepts and execution. Like some already virulent strain of 19th century bibliophilia, made even deadlier by time travel, has visited 21st century to slay the last remaining bibliomaniacs among us. Death, where is thy sting?
2.19.10 // Chris said:
Fantastic. Beautiful. Where do I buy. Really, how do I buy!
2.19.10 // Arthur Cherry said:
My student work wasn't even close to this. These are absolutely genius!
2.19.10 // Antón Romero said:
Great and beautiful job. Good day.
3.2.10 // Kirk DouPonce said:
I concur with Charles' quote at the top of the page.
3.25.10 // Paul Buckley said:
ian, penguin did hire the guy - right out of school...! jim starts in may. it's blogs like face out books, and yours ian, that show us all the fabulous
talents out there. so thank you guys. seriously. I forget the exact way we were tipped off to jim, but roseanne put the word out there that we were looking, and someone either sent word to jim after seeing this post (and sara as well - check her out - also uber talented from the same school - somebody should hire here asap - http://www.sara-wood.com/ ) or sent us this post to see his work. two big young talents that we'll all be seeing more great things from.