Malcolm Gladwell Illustrated

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Malcolm Gladwell is considered one of the most prolific modern thinkers and writers. His out of the box ideas and unique perspective have made him a best-selling author, and now his books reflect that uniqueness. Gladwell is releasing Collected, an illustrated boxed set that includes The TIpping Point, Outliers, and Blink. Designed by Brian Rea and Paul Sahre, the illustrations add a visual dimension to Gladwell's work. Below is an excerpt from Brian's interview about the project on the blog Los Angeles I'm Yours:

What was your brief from Malcolm? How did you and Paul collaborate? What was your process?

Paul and I spent two days in his NYC studio working out what we believed the direction of the set could be–I mean, it’s such a unique book project really–so we looked at a lot of unique and special books–Edward Gorey’s 1960 version of War of the Worlds, Rockwell Kent’s illustrated Moby Dick, old encyclopedias and science related books and even children’s fairy tale books and made lists of the strengths of each.

We spent time sketching out early ideas- exploring what might be possible and impossible–how to convey stories and how information could be presented, pacing, tone, volume, structure of the books–even how the thing felt in your hand. The remainder of the project I worked from the studio in LA and Paul worked from his shop in NYC. I presented sketches to Malcolm by email–he was extremely careful and respectful of the process. He actually held back on saying what he liked and instead told me what he was less keen about (things like word pieces, or images that had figures)–it was great art direction honestly. All chapter opener art, title pages and full page images were done first and emailed to Paul to tuck into the flow of the book for pacing. Spots were done after and used in specific places to push lines and avoid any odd breaks or widows. We did most everything via Skype, phone, and passing files back and forth. A LOT of back and forth.

Can you talk a little about the idea behind the visuals?

The original books have no art in them (besides a few charts and diagrams) and are really about the words and theories so it was a special opportunity to add a visual sound to books that many people have become super familiar with. That ‘tone’ we discussed quite a bit: couldn’t be too ‘illustrated’ but also couldn’t be too independent of the text. The aim was to create marks that engaged the reader in a new way and created a parallel visual narrative without overstating the messages Malcolm was trying to convey. Sometimes that visual narrative aligned perfectly with the content and other times it skewed off in oblique and hopefully compelling ways. All drawings were done in pencil and we tried to maintain that feel in the printing.

See more images and read the full interview here


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