Designer and illustrator Anna Bond’s work has graced stationery shops, bookstore sidelines, and even cell phone cases for years now, and starting in 2014 has designed book covers of four classics for Penguin’s In Bloom series. This year, as the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has inspired literally dozens of new editions of the work, as well as reprints of older editions, Eileen Kreit, president and publisher of Puffin approached Bond and her agent to give the curiouser and curiouser book a full overhaul, complete with full-color spot illustrations. Read on for more behind Bond’s inspiration to tackle this ubiquitous classic.
Do you have a favorite illustrator or edition of Alice?
I love the original illustrations by John Tenniel. There’s also a version by Willy Pogany from 1929 that I love.
What inspired the color palette you chose?
I started with Alice’s blue dress and worked from there. A variety of blue tones was integral to the palette as well as vibrant pinks, reds, and greens. I wanted to evoke the magical, dreamlike quality of the story by using colors that were a bit surreal, such as electric blue tree trunks.
Can you talk a bit about your process? How did it differ for this project from some of the other projects you’ve done? What materials do you use?
I don’t usually do a lot of sketching but for this book it was necessary. I started off with very, very rough sketches – so rough I think I may have concerned the publisher. Once the sketches were reviewed and approved, I painted directly over them with gouache. It was a collaborative process with the publisher as we talked about which parts of the story to illustrate, which scenes would be spreads, and so on.
What are the main differences between working on a book versus the sorts of projects you typically work on?
Working on a book is such a long process from start to finish. I’m used to working on a product with the possibility that I can show it to customers and have it be in stores within weeks if necessary, whereas a book typically takes over a year. It also took months of work to finish all of the illustrations.
If you could illustrate any book, which would it be?
A friend recently suggested that I illustrate Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and I would love that. I think it would be so fun and interesting.
Would you ever do your own picture book?
There are definitely plans to!
Alice is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year; why do you think it has endured so long?
The story is so whimsical, witty, and fantastical. The characters are also so unique. I think the way they were portrayed and illustrated in the original version brought them to life in a way so many people responded to.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, illus. by Anna Bond. Puffin, $30 Nov. ISBN 978-0-14-751587-2