There is immense power that lies within the hands of a book illustrator. Left to his or her own devices, the ways in which readers imagine fictional worlds made manifest are infinite. With illustrations, the way one sees Huck Finn or Jim Hawkins is shaped immensely. Now, artist, Justin Rowe, is quite literally giving new depth to these illustrations.
Still No Soul, pictured above, comes from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Justin Rowe uses the original illustrations in the books. Using a scalpel, Rowe cuts out portions of the illustration and then stands them up. To give the sculpture more panache, he added churning waves using twisting text on the following page.
The film industry may be obsessed with 3-D for profit reasons, but there is a pleasure in viewing emotional illustrations literally coming off the page. Pictured above is the sculpture titled Hopeful Had Much Ado from Pilgrim's Progress. The sculpture and its drama does justice to one of the most important religious English texts and my pulling the dramatic scene from the page, it heightens the challenges its protagonist Christian faces in the text.
The Royal Little Red Riding Hood, pictured above, is based on a print called Royal Little Red Riding Hood by Karen Kilimnik that Rowe found "particularly evocative of childhood and fairytales." The sculpture catches the reader's eye with the gold leaf covered carriage, left imperfect to impart a sense of antique, bringing it past the hand-cut trees looming against the black backdrop, and then up and out of the page to the wolf howling before the silver moon.
"I felt I needed to include the threatening, scary side of fairytale, the woods, the twisting path etc," says Rowe about the left-hand side of the sculpture, which deviates from Kilimnik's print.
Perhaps, with creativity like that demonstrated by Justin Rowe's sculptures, there may be always be an impactful place for print!
More of Rowe's work can be found here.