Drawing Edgecliff – Illustration for Poetry

More behind-the-scenes of illustrating Angelina Sáenz‘s book of poems, Edgecliff.

Sáenz told me that the publisher was interested in illustrations throughout her manuscript/book. Oh the possibilities!

A lot went through my head as far as what to draw and how to draw it. Her poems, in this book form, tell an emotional story with tactile, concrete memories. This is different than when I made a zine from a selection of her Instagram posts (Sorry I was late, I was reading poetry, 2018, Otis Books-ish). In that case, I mixed her posted family photos and fit-in-an-Instagram-square poetry.

Her Edgecliff manuscript travels through time, building a complex narrative. It shows how crappy and wonderful life can be and how much work someone can get done when they’re doing a lot of work.

For this project, Sáenz helped me realize the art should stay honed as connected-line drawings from her Instagram posts (and other photos she shared with me).

I read her manuscript and laughed and cried. I then took screenshots of her Instagram. The process seems very Instagram-heavy, and that’s just how parts of it were. A few of my favorite drawings are from images Sáenz texted me (like the image to the left which sits next to the final poem in Edgecliff), but mostly this public IG tool was an illustration research database. I found what to draw, figured out how to draw it, and then I drew a lot. (I wrote more about the drawing process here.)

To put it all together, I made a puzzle with Sáenz’s manuscript and my drawings. I found homes for completed drawings and added notes for drawing ideas.

Tape, scissors, and multiple-pages-per-page printing are dear friends of mine.

I texted the author this work-in-progress picture from a hotel carpet in Hawaii. Go team!

I made a doc that clarified the sequence of illustrations in conjunction with the manuscript chapters. I included the Instagram text from Sáenz’s (@saenzwriter) posts in the doc. Some of her images seem like they were posted in the moment. Like I’m seeing her view of her dinner table with her. Other images are found photos from her past, but she writes about them with the reflection of the present, so I’m still kind of with her at her dinner table. It’s all very surreal and transporting. The IG captions jostle and contextualize.

In arranging the illustrations with Sáenz’s poems, I aimed to reflect my experience time-traveling through her manuscript. There are some poems that I didn’t have line drawings for and didn’t want to assign a Sáenz post to. The poems all speak for themselves. Some of the poems need more space, though. Like thought and time space.

I sent Sáenz a doc (with image attachments – like the one above). I wasn’t certain if they’d use any of it. They did. Sáenz is for it.

And then there was a book launch and merch. Those posts coming soon!

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