Making by constraints

When looking back and trying to assess what I have done, I find that the question HOW my books were MADE is far more interesting than how the books LOOK when finished. What is striking is the scheme of constraints that I often deliberately set up for myself. This I think is the key to my creative work in general. When I start out on a new book the topic is often only a faint outline. By applying my self imposed rules on texts, verses, rhymes, images, and layouts of pages, the topic of the book evolves and transforms until it merge into a coherent whole. The constraints work as a controlling guide in the creative process. It reduces the number of choices – I usually feel lost with too much freedom. At the same time it challenges me in a creative way to search for smart solutions. I like to fight the constraints, make them work in my favour. Some examples: In the Lady Books the rule was to use words made up of only four letters, and for the vector graphics (the Lady figures) just one uniform black line. In The Square Song I based graphic figures and titles on a grid of black squares 3×3 mms. The design of the pages in The Squared Rhymes is also based on a square grid, and the rhymes fit into a seven lines scheme. In these three examples I have used the algorithmic character of the digital tool that I use a lot – Adobe Illustrator. This software resonates well with my way of working but I also use analogue techniques in a similar way. In the book Flight/Flykt my drawings are constrained by only using rulers, stencils and french curves. No free hand lines, except for writing the text. Another constraining aspect of making books that I often face – and appreciate as a challenge – is how to make the most out of the A4 size. Considering the direction of the grain, and the few options I have with a black-and-white home printer that only takes A4 sheets.

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