Portrait of a Folio Illustrator: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

The Folio SocietyYesterday, we saw a glimpse of what it took to create the beautiful imagery in The Folio Society’s edition of Margery Allingham’s Tiger in the Smoke. Today, we indulge in Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

We wanted to learn more about how technological developments have impacted illustrators in their process of creating imagery for Folio books. The publishing company is well known for the beautifully crafted illustrations it includes in its classic tomes, so this was an ideal opportunity to explore the dicotomy between traditional technique and computerization.

Here’s what The Folio Society’s Sheri Gee, Senior Art Director, had to say about picking Karen Klassen for the job of creating the intoxicating images that complete Capote’s timeless tale of Breakfast at Tiffany’s:

Quite often we’ll come across drop dead amazing illustrators, but don’t have an appropriate commission available at that point in time. So, over the years we’ve accumulated an extensive collection of reference files for a vast array of very talented illustrators.

Reading any book I’m working on, I often get a feel for what I want, and frequently use this resource to find the perfect illustrator. Karen was one such success story. I’d come across her work some time earlier and was attracted to her strong draughtsmanship, which is very important to me in my search for a future Folio illustrator. Karen pairs excellent drawing skills with a bold and sassy use of colour, which seemed to be just perfect for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She’s worked on a few fashion illustration briefs so was demonstrating a great sense of style which I was eager for her to bring to this project.

We asked Karen to tell us a little about her creative process while working on this project and here’s what she shared:

I used pencil drawings and a screenprint texture that I had previously done and combined them in Photoshop for the sketch version [above]. I also digitally painted some details in Photoshop (the sunburst effect, her shirt).

For the final [above], I combined hand-done screenprinted textures, acrylic paint textures and brushmarks, and pencil drawings in Photoshop. The textures and drawings I scan in are usually in black and white or greyscale (although not always). Then I colorize them in Photoshop and keep adjusting levels until I’m satisfied with the color.

When I start the final phase of a project, I will create a bunch of textures with different brushes, mediums, and techniques on paper—then scan these in and use them where I think they will work best. I play with scale, color, and placement in Photoshop, and by combining these two techniques (traditional media and digital) it gives me the greatest amount of flexibility and options. I prefer the hand drawn and painted look but sometimes, due to time constraints, it’s easier to combine traditional with digital.

Here is how some of the other scenes from Breakfast at Tiffany’s unfolded in the illustrator’s imagination:

By clicking on the book cover below, you can learn more about the story behind the images.

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

A special thanks…

We thank The Folio Society, and in particular Sheri Gee, Senior Art Director and Karen Klassen, Illustrator for their contributions.

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