Halfway through 2021, halfway between my 24th and 25th birthday, I found myself with an opportunity to have a hand in illustration and book design. Hand on heart, I’d never wanted to be an illustrator. For one I didn’t think my skill was up to scratch. And secondly, I had no interest in spending much time on it. But approaching my 25th birthday and seeing the chance to learn something, I took it. After researching the most commonly illustrated scenes of The Wind in the Willows, I prepared 5 of my own illustrations to present to the project lead. And I got the job.
Following this, I researched the story some more; Drew up the pagination; Spent many of my evenings working on finishing the artwork needed; Laid out the pages with the artwork and text together; Made the necessary adjustments until our small team of three was happy; Had back and forth conversations with colleagues and printers on paper types and lead times; Joint forces to curate a book cover we could take to a series in future. For months this project consumed my life. I don’t know how many times I told friends that ‘it’ll be done soon’: That I would start replying to their messages in good time and relaxing on my weekends. It was thrilling to be creating something new again. Every bookshop I went into I would look at their children’s classics and soak in the different styles I was surrounded with. For months I thought of nothing else. Until finally it was ready and I parted with my work as it was sent to the printer.
At the end of March, a parcel arrived at the office. Earlier than expected, the long anticipated advance copies. I called Ed and he rushed into the office. Together, we gathered with our lovely editor, Emma, to view the book for the first time. The book you can now see below.
There’s no amount of joy I can imagine that is bigger than holding something you have created in your hands. Especially after devoting so much time and love. Though I’m happy to admit the process was not always perfect, the moment we stood with the book in our hands for the first time was. And regardless of any highs and lows that process may have caused me, it is a process I will repeat, and that I cannot wait to start again.
Title: The Wind in the Willows (by Kenneth Grahame)
Published by: Examberry Papers Ltd.
Cover design: Ed Samuel and Hannah Maggie
Illustration: Hannah Maggie