Behind the screens : 'Don't Lick the Walls' by Kitty Riggs
It's been a while, here's another behind the screens of my commissions. I was commissioned by the self-published queen herself, Kitty Riggs to create the cover for her new book, "Don't Lick the Walls' - a 6 episode plea to the BBC. I wanted to share the creative process with you and show you how this piece came together.
First steps - the concept
Kitty sent across a bunch of reference photos that were all 70s psychedelic themed. One that stood out to us both was a retro TV. She then gave her vision for the book. An old retro TV with psychedelic font on the screen. On top of the tv- a cocktail glass with a small disco ball inside it, on the right hand side - and a cowboy hat on the other side. And I quote 'ALLL of this in as much bright colour as possible'. - the dream commission or what?! I then have my ideas of having things hinting to what happens in the book such as a patient bracelet, some disco boots and then we both decided on the possibility of having Flynn (she's the main character of course) on the TV and the text above. I must mention for my time scale, this was a VERY tight deadline but I just could NOT pass up this opportunity.
I also want to note before you read that when I do commissions especially ones like this, I
like to create a very collaborative experience with my clients. This is because at the end of the day this is THEIR vision that I am bringing to life and yes I will have my inputs and suggestions but if the client wants to see something in bright pink, then blue, then black... I will do that! It is all about testing and trying to get the best outcome. So you might see that through this process I say 'we' a lot and I mention Kitty's requests and this is all stuff that I encourage as the illustrator as I think it is one of the best ways to get a happy client and just makes the process more enjoyable and easier on you both. I like to create an experience that allows the client to feel involved with the project, I'm not the kind of illustrator that you hear nothing from until the very end. Plus, it is so fun watching it come to life and working on projects with people that are so enthusiastic about seeing what comes next. Also, just out of interest for you all, this was the first cover concept she had before asking me to be involved.
The first sketch:
3 days later...this was the very first sketch for the front cover. I mocked this together on Adobe Illustrator but for some reason I don't have saved anywhere so excuse the screenshot quality.
On feedback, after huge amounts of love (you should see the thread, it literally made me do the BIGGEST smile!), Kitty requested that Flynn's hair be pink instead. So we got this. I had the intentions to add a psychedelic pattern to the hair but didn't want to commit to doing so incase the idea was scrapped - working ahead and saving myself time.
The first fully coloured version:
We decided to stick with a very 70s, bright colour scheme. I only added the tan background to show the contrast of colours - this wasn't going to be the background colour. The whole way through this, I tried to refer back to the reference photos and 70s illustration to see their use of colour and found that although most of the colours used were flat, they added textural elements to them therefore I added very small, comic-like dots to the TV to give it almost a gritty feel. This step of the process was done on Adobe Fresco via my iPad so was all drawn in using my Apple Pencil.
Here's how that went:
We then decided that the blue didn't pop out as much as hoped against the purple and Kitty asked if we could try green stars rather than the dark red on the boots. Also, started to think of green as a potential background colour. You can also see the texture that I added to the back more on this colour. Aaaaand of course we instantly saw how much the kermit green of the boots popped way more than the dark red!
It was time to move onto the typography of the book, the part I dreaded as I don't really have much experience of type but I was also excited as I saw it as a challenge. I knew I wanted to do an illustrated hand-drawn type for this. We had agreed on the 70s style so I set to work.
And here it is added to the design on Photoshop. Against the green background, I thought that a yellow might work best and would also tie back to the TV.
But we must not forget, Kitty is the QUEEN of colour and I just know she can't resist a good rainbow colour scheme which was her next colour request she wanted to see visualised. In order for this to work, she also wanted to see it against a black background. That's when we got this (I must apologise again for quality as for some reason I only have this one as a screenshot). But this version really and I quote 'threw a spanner in the works' for Kitty as she now had to choose between the green and black versions.
The only issue we found with the black background was now the boots got a bit lost. So Kitty requested to see them in red with the green stars. Thats when we got this BEAUTY:
THE FINAL DESIGN
We also discovered that we had got that caught up in the design process, we completely forgot to add Kitty's name to the front cover!! When I told her this, she literally just said that she likes it without and that it is a piece of art in itself so we decided to have it central of the back cover.
The back cover:
I already knew what I had in mind for the back cover - I wanted to do the same design but distorted. Almost like something had gone wrong or it had been used. Kind of like a before and after shot. I wanted to have the drink spilt over, running under the TV, mud up the boots like they've been worn and the TV screen all glitched. As soon as I told Kitty this idea, she loved it and gave me the go ahead.
The first concept:
Kitty absolutely loved this and had no real pointers to change about it. However we realised we had to compete against the dreaded barcode on the back and how it will potentially cover up the design. So adding the mud up the boots might not even show up anyway.
This is the original sketch and coloured version of the typography. I wanted to have some form of recognition that this was the author due to the fact it was on the back as we realised we had missed it off the front however Kitty stated that she actually preferred it not being on the front.
Kitty then sent across her AMAZING quote/reference ideas for the back. There was one more that unfortunately wouldn't fit so I must share as it was genius !
'I liked it, but I also like Coronation Street, so I guess that says more about me than it does the book' - ***
I tried BY Kitty Riggs but it just looked out of place - this is when Kitty came up with having 'DIRECTED BY' above her name.
For the spine, I wanted to include the 18 age symbol and DVD mark as they were in the mock up of Kitty's and I just thought that would look so cool when on your shelf. Of course these images are copyrighted so I had to make my own versions on photoshop.
Here is some of the process (I wish I'd have filmed it all but I always forget when I'm like half way through!!)
The different variations I came up with :
THE FINAL COVER
And there she is !! It is so bright and fabulous, I love it if I do say so myself. It has been an absolute pleasure to work on and of course the dream team to be working with the creative genius that is Kitty Riggs again. Meeting other creative boss bitches that are killing everything they do just makes my job all that more amazing and I am so grateful. If you don't already, please follow @kittyriggs_ on instagram for updates on the release of this book and check out her previous work.
Thank you if you made it this far, this was a longer blog post but I wanted to document the whole thing as I am just so proud not only of the design but the project.