It’s a long story…
The Folio Society is renowned for publishing exquisitely crafted editions of fine literature, with an emphasis on beautiful typography and illustration. In 2014, I was a finalist in their prestigious annual illustration competition. Several years later, I jumped at the chance to work with them on the cover artwork for a three volume set; A History of Christianity by Diarmaid MacCulloch.
Each clothbound volume features a cross representing the historical period covered in that particular book. While each cross is stylistically distinct, I drew them with similar proportions and a shared symmetry to balance them as a set. Around each cross I wove a pattern of vines, thorny brambles and palm leaves that were then echoed on the spines and the amalgamated slipcase design.
The subtitle of the book is, ‘The First Three Thousand Years’ and each volume features a cross from each millennia. The first volume depicts a Chi Rho, an early Christian monogram, here combined with Alpha and Omega glyphs. The second cover features a double armed, Reliquary cross from c.1180. These hollow crosses were often quite. ornate and contained holy relics. The third is a processional cross, inspired by a bronze Ethiopian design from the 18th-century and represents the church’s expansion into the New World.
The three covers are fully bound in cloth, with blocking in two colours on the front. We decided that the set of crosses were strong enough for us to use a different foil on each volume. To ensure there was visual cohesion across the covers I created a grid that each cross could be mapped on to. This grid was then also used to align the elements on the spine and slipcase.
Above: First thumbnail sketches with overlaid with a grid. I wanted the crosses to be reversed out from a block of colour, represented by the blue area.
Cover Sketches. Those with symmetrical patters only required one half to be drawn. however, the whole design was hand drawn in the final artwork.
Colour mock-ups of each cover and slipcase.
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