Picture books by Jean de Wet, Jordan Metcalf and Michael Taylor

We chatted to Zhané Warren from Warren Editions about the beautifully illustrated Picture Books by some of South Africa’s top illustrators. (We’ll also be featuring Warren Editions in our next post)

        How did you go about selecting the illustrators for these books?

I started working with Michael Taylor in 2008 and have subsequently done so every year on projects ranging from etching, mezzotints, monotypes and chine collé prints. I already invited him to be part of the picture books in 2008 and he was an obvious choice because of his illustrative style and his interest in making books. (Look at his immediate book of nonsense.) http://immediatenonsense.blogspot.com/2011/06/gifted.html). I wanted to embark on the Picture Book project with Michael Taylor because of his wit and dark humour – in his work and his approach to narrative art.

I asked Jean de Wet in 2009; I met him through my partner Christo Basson, one of the owners and creative director’s at Am I Collective (http://www.amicollective.com/), where Jean works. And, so was introduced to his drawings – first through a mesh up of sketch books and newsprint filled drawings. I immediately fell in love with his work and knew I wanted him on board. Since then his style has become more augmented through his other-worldly characters and environments. Jean’s characters for me seems to naturally want to be part of a story and so I encouraged him to make a Picture Book.

I invited Jordan Metcalf in early 2010; quiet soul. His personality is reflected in his drawings and he has not failed to deliver in his picture book, titled ‘Forgetting’. I saw his work on the internet, contacted him and invited him to the studio. Demanded that he bring along his sketch books and proposed the idea of making a picture book.

Tell us a bit more about the printing processes and binding of the books?

Screenprinting has a reputation for being an easy, if not quick commercial means of obtaining mass-produced items – t-shirts and posters are two such examples. The picture book project endeavored to challenge this reputation by embracing a fresh look at what can be done with silkscreen by pushing the quality of various aspects related to the medium.

The positives required to expose to the screens went beyond the stock-standard resolution (i.e.lpi) thus creating the possibility of broader tonal variation that veers away from the half-tone look and edges toward an ink wash aesthetic. The screen mesh too, was pushed to a finer weave count which, together with high resolution positives meant that in printing the imagery, no miniscule dot went unaccounted for. The water-based ink used is non-toxic and far healthier and easier to work with in comparison to solvent-based ink, which is generally recommended for such projects.

In printing and binding the three books (each an edition of 150, signed and numbered), careful quality control of each page and the subsequent collating of each book demanded a high standard so as to achieve uniformity. Bearing in mind that everything is done by hand. The books were bound using a pamphlet stitch. After having cut, scored and folded each page, they are knocked together to fir into a registration jig.

Thereafter, with the use of an awl the holes for stitching are made along the centre score/spine. After having stitched together each book, the false cover was folded over and around the end page and neatly packaged – a labour of love.

How can one purchase these books? (especially if you’re not in Cape Town)

You may order the picture books via email (we@warreneditions.com) or telephone (021 461 6070) and pay with eft.

The picture book/s will be posted to you at an additional cost of R 20 and the cost of a picture book is R 350.00.

– Indeed a labour of love, thanks for the interview Zhané.


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