Summary: The Story of the Fisherman is a limited edition hand made letterpress book which I had the honor of illustrating. This blog post is a beginning, the tip of the iceberg, focusing on showing some of the book’s qualities.
Over the course of the past year, I have been doggedly working on a project that is one of the most beautiful projects that I have ever had the honor of being a part of. This book has already found a home in many University Libraries across the US as well as around the globe. There is a copy in the Special Collections at the Stanford University Library, and I am very proud to say that there is a copy in the U. S. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.
The Story of the Fisherman is a letterpress book that is hand bound, hand colored, and illustrated by yours truly. The limited edition of 117 (101 of which are for sale) is a project that is produced by Foolscap Press.
You can visit the Foolscap Press website to read more, see more pictures, and purchase a copy of the book.
I am deeply grateful that I am able to work with Master Craftspeople like Peggy Gotthold and Larry Van Velzer who make up Foolscap Press. Their work is, to my eye, of the highest calibre. Ms. Gotthold has done all the accordion fold binding by hand. Mr. Van Velzer is a printer extraordinaire whose printing leaves marks of crystal clarity. They have a long history of creating amazing books.
Part of the incredible satisfaction that came about from this project is the feeling that the final book is an extension of the content of the book. The Story of the Fisherman is a story which is taken from the larger story of One Thousand and One Nights (also known as The Arabian Nights.)
The overall design, the images, the way that the book is presented all grew naturally from the nesting nature of the The Arabian Nights tales.
If you are unfamiliar with the Arabian Nights, the basic over-arching umbrella story is about Shaharazad, the new Queen telling stories to the King each night. The King, for reasons of his own, has had a virgin each night and has her killed in the morning. However Sharazad’s plan is to tell the King a cliffhanger story each night. So, on their wedding night, the three of them retire to the bedroom… wait, three? Yes, Sharazad’s sister, Dinarizad tags along with them (which, is a little awkward I’d have to imagine.) For the purposes of this book, her role is that of the artist and scribe, who’s drawing pictures all the while her sister is telling stories.
The story and it’s meaning go much deeper than that, but suffice to say that even inside this story of Sharazad, the characters in her stories begin to tell stories about characters who tell stories… and on, and on, and on.
Earlier I mentioned that these stories nest within one another, so there are different levels of within one story. A fantastic design element of this book is that each two page spread connects with the other spreads from the same “depth’ of story! It is a wonderful way to show the connectivity of each story. The true experience and breadth of this cannot be accurately shown in a single picture, but I hope that it begins to give you some sense of the project. When all the spreads are put side by side, the book extends just over six feet! (*I will be posting more about this aspect of the book, so stay tuned!)
Thank you for reading this post. I do hope that this has been helpful in introducing you to this book. It is a project that I am very proud of, and I hope that you enjoy it as well. Please feel free to leave a comment or contact me, I respond well to enthusiasm.
Also, you may be interested in these other blog posts about this project: