Responses by Martin Dupuis, art director, Les Évadés
Background: The aim of the project was to give L’Échange Bookstore some local attention by putting up posters in its store window and all across town. The target audiences were people interested in literature and book culture.
Reasoning: Focusing on the store’s name got us thinking in the right direction. The French name L’Échange translates to “exchange” in English, so we set out to see if we could find the right matches to follow a simple idea: take characters from one book and place them in the background of another book. I also liked the idea of being able to visually depict the store’s name.
Challenges: The list of classic books is extensive, but finding the right ones that could be easily decoded to fit the idea were surprisingly limited. Some could have worked, but were too closely linked to movies (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings). Backgrounds were trickier to find than characters, and sometimes the same book had a great character and a great background. Alice’s famous tea party table and Don Quixote’s windmills could have worked, but ultimately, the little blonde girl in a blue dress and the old man on a horse were too iconic to pass up.
Favorite details: Matching Alice in Wonderland with Le Petit Prince because they are both children stories, aligning Sherlock Holmes and Gulliver together because of their similar sense of adventure and placing Don Quixote in front of the white whale were all matches made in heaven. Also, it felt great to work on a project I genuinely cared about and liked the product and the people involved.
Visual influences: My brief to illustrator Andrea Ucini, represented by Anna Goodson Illustration & Motion, included all the classic imagery related to the books by Gustave Doré, John Tenniel and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The challenge was paying the proper respect to the original source material, while trying to bring in visual elements that felt new and different. I had also wanted to work with Andrea for a while, so his work was a big part of these solutions and ideas. His images have a wonderful sense of elegance and minimalism that works with the iconic imagery and references.
Time constraints: Luckily, the time constraints on this project were very reasonable. Andrea and I had opportunities to step back and address all the little details we wanted to get as perfect as possible.