A look behind the Fairport by Fairport illustrations
If you’ve just taken delivery of our limited edition official Fairport Convention book, Fairport by Fairport, you’ll hopefully have appreciated the glorious specially commissioned cover artwork by Croatian-based illustrator Eugen Slavik.
We worked closely with Eugen over a period of several months to create the final design. Starting from an initial brief, Eugen drew countless pencil sketches before digitising the design into a file we could print from.
That colour artwork uses a grand total of five separate inks, which are screen printed onto the special cloth in which the hardback book is bound. We also did multiple proofs to make sure we were happy with the finished effect. It’s a very different process from the way most books are printed, but we think it was worth the effort.
The cover design is complimented by a series of fourteen one-colour illustrations Eugen created to announce the beginning of each chapter. Like the text, they are printed in a brown Pantone ink. You’ll also find Eugen’s original work on the spine, back cover, endpapers and accompanying DVD.
The images below give you an idea of how the design evolved – but first, here’s what Eugen himself has to say about it.
I was very pleased with the offer that I got from Michael at Rocket 88: “We really liked the style of your Little Marko series – especially the Green Tree. I’m currently looking to commission a cover illustration for a book about the English folk / rock band Fairport Convention…”
For a long time, busy with other sorts of projects, I wasn’t doing what I love most – book illustrations. And the work that had attracted Rocket 88’s attention was one of my favourites – the illustrations for a book of Balkan folk tales called Little Marko. And of course, illustrating a book about Fairport Convention was a big reason for me to take on the commission, Fairport being such legendary figures on the music scene.
The idea was to represent the band’s long and complex history and the connection to Fairport’s English folk roots through the motif of a grand oak tree, with all its branches.
At that time I lived in a city, surrounded by concrete and dense traffic, with not a single oak tree in sight. Generally, for a long period, I had missed being close to nature, so it happened that, in the middle of the process of creating these illustrations, my family and I decided to move away from the city and relocate to a small village in Istria, with old, stone houses on top of the hill and plenty of beautiful oak trees around it. The place is magical, it looks as if you could expect the Green Man or Reynard the Fox to jump out in front of you any moment… It was very inspiring.
My collaboration with Rocket 88 was excellent. I was particularly surprised and pleased at the moment when they sent me a note that the band members have personally approved my artwork, I had no idea that the book was supposed to be done in such close interaction with the band.
In the end, the result of it all is this beautiful and momentous book.