ABOUT

Dare Not Speak

Spring 2024

brief

Design and bind copies of The Picture of Dorian Gray and Little Women in a way that highlights the self-censorship performed by the authors on these texts. Advised by Kelsey Dusenka.

skills

Typesetting

Page Design

Book Design

Illustration

Typography

Bookbinding

Screenprinting

process

I worked on this project for almost a year. I started by pulling up the different editions of a book side by side and reading them simultaneously, line by line, and marking any changes. I marked additions to and removals from the revised (self-censored) editions, giving each category its own InDesign character style. This allowed me to easily iterate various layouts—I tried a myriad of ways to show the alterations that Wilde and Alcott made to their books. I experimented with a literal censor bar, narrow enough that the text was still legible or so heavy that the edited text was illegible. Ultimately, however, this idea made the most interesting pieces of content harder to read. I then tried some more "handwritten manuscript"-style layouts. I liked these a lot, but the most compelling design, with notes scrawled in the margins, couldn't be achieved with character styles. I would have had to indvidually set each of the 700 pages of these books by hand, and that simply wasn't feasible. So I went back to my "working" layout, with different colors representing additions, removals, and unchanged content. I felt that the black unchanged content was pulling focus away from the censored pieces, so I tried just removing the unchanged content completely. This was getting me somewhere—and once I set both removals and additions to be black, I knew I had cracked it. Making these two elements indistinguishable was not part of my original plan, but it creates a haunting, disjointed atmosphere, which is exactly what I was going for. It invokes the horror of the self-mutilation these authors had to do in order to survive.

I then moved on to cover designs. I wanted to play with using the dust jacket as a way to "censor" the covers. I thought about using a narrow dust jacket that would function like a censor bar, or a transparent dust jacket that would block out certain parts of the covers. But these felt a little bit too on the nose. In the end, I decided to simply design dust jackets that would represent the "censored" novel, and covers that would represent the "uncensored" novel. For Dorian Gray, this ended up being an illustration of the framed portrait vs. an illustration of Basil painting the portait while Dorian sat for it. And for Little Women, the dust jacket has the clasped hands of Jo and Professor Bhaer, featuring wedding rings, while the cover has Jo's ringless hand holding a book. All of these illustrations went through a few rounds of iteration to arrive at the final product. I referenced woodcut engraving-style illustrations, both to evoke the historical feeling of when these books were published and to make screenprinting the covers easier.

For cover typography, I vectorized the typography used in the first editions of each book. I was lucky enough that both books had beautiful original cover type, so I chose not to mess with what was already beautiful. The typeface used for the interiors is Witchy by Valery Marier. I wanted to use a Didone-style face, reminiscent of the typefaces the original editions would have been set in, and it was extremely important to me that the typeface was created by a queer designer. Witchy served my needs perfectly, and Valery graciously allowed me to use it for this project.

Once I had finalized all of my design decisions, it was simply a matter of assembling the books! Well, I say simply, but I ended up stitching Little Women twice, and screenprinting two to three versions of each cover and dust jacket. It was worth it, though!

reflections

This is the biggest project I've ever done, and it was entirely self-directed. I learned a ton about time management and project organization, in addition to hard skills. I screenprinted for the first time, which was extremely cool! I also learned more about hardcover bookbinding, which I had done before, but I now have a better understanding of how it works. It has been extremely rewarding to see all of the work I spent so much time on finally come to fruition in a tangible way. Of all of the design work I've ever done, I think this project means the most to me, and I'm so grateful that I was able to do it.

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brief

skills

Typesetting

Page Design

Book Design

Illustration

Typography

Bookbinding

Screenprinting

process

I worked on this project for almost a year. I started by pulling up the different editions of a book side by side and reading them simultaneously, line by line, and marking any changes. I marked additions to and removals from the revised (self-censored) editions, giving each category its own InDesign character style. This allowed me to easily iterate various layouts—I tried a myriad of ways to show the alterations that Wilde and Alcott made to their books. I experimented with a literal censor bar, narrow enough that the text was still legible or so heavy that the edited text was illegible. Ultimately, however, this idea made the most interesting pieces of content harder to read. I then tried some more "handwritten manuscript"-style layouts. I liked these a lot, but the most compelling design, with notes scrawled in the margins, couldn't be achieved with character styles. I would have had to indvidually set each of the 700 pages of these books by hand, and that simply wasn't feasible. So I went back to my "working" layout, with different colors representing additions, removals, and unchanged content. I felt that the black unchanged content was pulling focus away from the censored pieces, so I tried just removing the unchanged content completely. This was getting me somewhere—and once I set both removals and additions to be black, I knew I had cracked it. Making these two elements indistinguishable was not part of my original plan, but it creates a haunting, disjointed atmosphere, which is exactly what I was going for. It invokes the horror of the self-mutilation these authors had to do in order to survive.

I then moved on to cover designs. I wanted to play with using the dust jacket as a way to "censor" the covers. I thought about using a narrow dust jacket that would function like a censor bar, or a transparent dust jacket that would block out certain parts of the covers. But these felt a little bit too on the nose. In the end, I decided to simply design dust jackets that would represent the "censored" novel, and covers that would represent the "uncensored" novel. For Dorian Gray, this ended up being an illustration of the framed portrait vs. an illustration of Basil painting the portait while Dorian sat for it. And for Little Women, the dust jacket has the clasped hands of Jo and Professor Bhaer, featuring wedding rings, while the cover has Jo's ringless hand holding a book. All of these illustrations went through a few rounds of iteration to arrive at the final product. I referenced woodcut engraving-style illustrations, both to evoke the historical feeling of when these books were published and to make screenprinting the covers easier.

For cover typography, I vectorized the typography used in the first editions of each book. I was lucky enough that both books had beautiful original cover type, so I chose not to mess with what was already beautiful. The typeface used for the interiors is Witchy by Valery Marier. I wanted to use a Didone-style face, reminiscent of the typefaces the original editions would have been set in, and it was extremely important to me that the typeface was created by a queer designer. Witchy served my needs perfectly, and Valery graciously allowed me to use it for this project.

Once I had finalized all of my design decisions, it was simply a matter of assembling the books! Well, I say simply, but I ended up stitching Little Women twice, and screenprinting two to three versions of each cover and dust jacket. It was worth it, though!

reflections

This is the biggest project I've ever done, and it was entirely self-directed. I learned a ton about time management and project organization, in addition to hard skills. I screenprinted for the first time, which was extremely cool! I also learned more about hardcover bookbinding, which I had done before, but I now have a better understanding of how it works. It has been extremely rewarding to see all of the work I spent so much time on finally come to fruition in a tangible way. Of all of the design work I've ever done, I think this project means the most to me, and I'm so grateful that I was able to do it.