Capstones: Our Student Anthologies

We hope you’ve had a chance to take a look at our latest student publications! We’re so lucky to have the help of a number of professional designers who volunteer their skills to help us get our signature student anthologies produced. Here’s some of their stories:

Iris Shih
Dragons Love International Food
Timeless Lessons

When English lit didn’t pan out (after Iris realized you have to not only read but write about what you read), Iris decided to study graphic design. She likes working with other people who have a problem to be solved or a message to convey instead of having to invent content herself. This makes design a good fit. As an avid, lifelong reader, books have always been her favorite thing to design because she gets to “curate the reader’s experience” and likens book design to “giving someone a tour as opposed to handing them a map.” In creating the student anthologies, she was careful not to let the design overshadow the content.

For Dragons Love International Food, the student work is about what makes each student and/or their culture special, so she tried to make each spread feel unique. For Timeless Lessons, she designed the cover like a composition notebook, framed each image, and gave it a plaque with the student’s name and story title to mimic an art gallery. This visual trick highlights the students’ artwork.

She attended the launch party for Dragons Love International Food, saying of the experience, “It was such a pleasure to review the whole process of meeting the author and finding inspiration, as well as handing each person a finished book. I loved that some of their family members came too—a number of parents seemed equally proud and excited to have the student work presented in such a professional way. Having been an avid reader since childhood, and because books have been a huge part of shaping my identity as a person, I love that there is a program that both gets kids excited about reading and inspires them to be creators themselves.”

A.K. Espada
I Made the Wrong Turn

Kate Espada’s primary work is in videography and video editing, but this incorporates design and illustration at times. In volunteering for Behind the Book, she was most excited about reading the stories and seeing the artwork (she said, that part of the process did not disappoint!) With I Made a Wrong Turn, she wanted the design to be fun but also wanted to let the students know their work was being taken seriously. This was her first (but not last) year as a Behind the Book designer and found that “giving kids the support and motivation to develop their voices while creating something from their imaginations is an incredibly powerful way to inspire them early in life, in a way that will stick with them forever.”

Tree Abraham
Stories From the Hood

Tree is a book designer from Canada who studied and worked in design in the United Kingdom before moving to New York a year ago. Book design, for her, is one of the best mediums for “sharing human narratives.” For Stories From the Hood, Tree played off “the dark content of the stories, the gritty concrete backgrounds, and spontaneous lines of the chalk paint” by using analogue processes. This means that she created patterns and type on the computer, printed them out, distressed the paper, and then layered and scanned them back into the computer. This process created a geometric effect reflective of ‘80s and ‘90s style.

Tree attended one of the classes for the book she worked on, and it reminded her of how important the arts and creative writing are in school, saying, “I think art can be very cathartic, and having a final book published helps honor and validate their experiences and hard work. With continuing cuts to art programs, organizations like Behind the Book are essential to help fill the gap.”

Ginnefine Jalloh
Don’t Cry Be Happy

Ginnefine is a graphic artist originally from the Bronx who is currently based in Northern Virginia. She studied graphic design at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, and is now pursuing a Masters in Publishing at The George Washington University. To complete the Behind the Book student anthology, she reviewed the students’ work and chose to focus on the fact that the book motivates readers to be happy; the layout was designed to reflect happiness. She came up with a color palette that blended with the student work and made it brighter and larger, so that the work is vividly highlighted and featured. For the cover, she wanted to create a scene with various “happy” elements from the students’ artwork rather than repeat images as seen in the book. We’re happy when we look at it, so it must be working!

This guest post was written by Klea Kalia, a rising junior at Barnard, who is spending her summer Behind the Book instead of on the beach!