Autumn in Japan, An Ink Painter’s Travel Journal
First Edition, 2022, numbered and stamped by the Artist
85 pages, English, Letterpress Softcover
Nominated for “Volumes Awards 2022”.
Developing “Autumn in Japan”.
Welcome to this look behind the scenes at how we are creating a brand new edition – transforming a painted travel journal into another handmade book. If you have visited this page before, scroll to the bottom of the page for the latest updates.
The original “Autumn in Japan” journal is a series of painted images based on nearly a month of travel and painting throughout Japan during the Autumn of 2018.
The artwork foundation
Prior to any trip I select the format on which my painted journal will take shape. In 2018 I selected a three-panel foldout notebook. Every panel on the sketchbook would capture the memory of one day. And each combination of three panels would yield an impression of a particular area visited.
Each panel is approximately 12.5 cm wide by 10 cm tall. Slightly smaller than a traditional Japanese postcard size.
The three-panel format, or triptych sets a particular challenge. In my mind, every panel needs to be simultaneously an interesting stand-alone composition and an imaginary larger panorama view.
I painted many panels during the trip. But the complexity of this format requires hours of planning, tests and actual execution. Much of my travel photography is taken with a painter’s eye looking through the lens, for future reference at my desk.
It takes me nearly six months after the trip to complete the journal. Nine triptychs, or twenty seven panels. Which places us around mid-2019, around the same time the second edition of “One Moment, One Drawing” arrived on my doorstep. Many of you have accompanied this portion of the work already. You recognized many of the places I painted. However, you might not have noticed there was a master plan guiding the journey.
Towards the end of the trip, I know it is simply not possible to complete all paintings while in Japan. I had steadily built up a backlog ever since leaving Tokyo. So I map out the concept for every triptych in a single page black line ink sketch. Unfortunately it seems I only have corner view photos from this master plan page. I will have to dig it up again to add it here.
Paintings complete. What next?
Well, this is the stage when many of you suggest creating a new book. At that time, June 2019, I am almost on my way over to Japan again. By the time I return, it is too late to consider a holiday season release for a new book. And I know what I do not want – the easiest concept way out. This would be to simply replicate the postcard book format of “One Moment, One Drawing”. But what would be the fun, the learning in that?
For the remainder of 2019 I will be scribbling down notes on what the concept for a new book might actually look like. And I will continue to read Japanese literature and history books hoping for an inspiration breakthrough on the concept. It is waiting, percolating time. It is slow, and it cannot be controlled.
I had taken the time in Tokyo during the rainy season to scout some amazing papers. And with these paper samples in hand, ideas on the book’s design and format start taking shape on my notebooks in the coming months.
The 2020 diary
Towards the beginning of 2020, it is time to take the next step. I need high-resolution scans of the journal to move forward with whatever concept ends up being selected. And then… well, we all know what happens then.
I am lucky in getting a slot on a very busy schedule from the same team that supported “One Moment, One Drawing”. By the early summer all digital files are on my computer. No behind the scenes photos here though. Guests are not allowed in the scanning room this time around.
Early summer means yet another year lost on the release date. Once I am over the frustration, and rummaging through my edition concept pipeline, this project will be put on hold. I shuffle projects around and prioritise the development of the art card series “From Home” and “The Tea House Diary” instead. You can read all about the diary’s story and ultimate release at Introducing “The Tea House Diary”.
But fear not, and be not frustrated when you read this. Things are about to take a very positive turn from now on…
The winning concept emerges at last
Around Easter 2021 both Namban and I have the capacity to resume work on “Autumn in Japan”. The first discussions are on the format, materials and desired look for the book.
“Autumn in Japan” should feel like a natural sequel to the previous editions, while creating an immediate visual link to the season. The pages need to frame the drawing reproductions with enough space to provide an adequate stand-out effect.
This will be my longest artist book to date in terms of text and art reproduced. The binding needs to hold that securely without feeling heavy.
We opt for an A5 landscape format, slightly larger than the A6 of the original sketchbook. This will achieve both goals above.
Now, for the most exciting challenge of this project in 2021.
“Autumn in Japan” should have a cover design, but I do not want to print or use any additional colours beyond those – or a nuance of those – available in the drawings. I have something very special in mind, but not quite sure how we will pull it off just yet.”, I propose to Namban.
I share my first sketches of ideas for the cover artwork. We both agree this would be quite special, and we set off to do the necessary research on each end to determine its feasibility.
To be updated shortly…
This is the first time I am logging a diary for a new book project. If you have particular questions about this project or have a comment on the format, leave a message in the comments section below. Let’s make this diary interactive!