A Whimsical Letterpress and Design Studio Based in Winter Park, Florida

Hello All!

ISABEL here… I've been an avid reader for a very, very long time.  Spanish was my first language and to help with learning English I read lots of picture books out loud to practice the tricky pronunciation. In the house where I grew up, my room has an intercom so the Ibanez clan can communicate without bellowing throughout the house. (Incidentally, we all still yelled. C'est le verite). At night, my mother would switch the intercom on because she knew that was my prime reading time. You know how kids hide flashlights underneath their sheets so they can keep reading? That was typically me but during the summer, it was a different matter. I'd read aloud and my parents, down the hall (after having read lots of books with me), could hear me read whatever I fancied late into the evening. I learned of this much later and it still brings a smile to my face.

BECAUSE I love to draw + read books, arriving at the combination of the two came almost at once. It's been a dream of mine to design book covers for all my favorite classics: Austen, Bronte, Wharton, Hardy and James along with other writers of that elk and era. With that in mind, I’ve decided to start something that is both challenging and a guilty pleasure in addition to my responsibilities as a small biz owner and sole designer at 9th Letter Press.

STARTING today, for the next year, I'll be reading one book a week.  Some new and some old favorites, and each week I'll design a book jacket for the book I’m reading. I'd love to share my process, the tools I use and whatever else I learn about designing on a self-imposed deadline. I imagine the consistency is just going to wreck my whimsical (scattered) nature since it will keep me reading, designing and on a schedule. I've had this project in the back of my mind for a long while (my friend Lauren Berlin can attest to this, along with everyone else here at the studio who has heard me talking about starting and watching me not) and I've delayed purely out of fear.

WHAT if I can't read an entire book - I mean let's not forget the classics are all wordy beasts - and I just get overwhelmed and behind?

WHAT if I draw a blank and can't come up with something fresh?  The pressure in this industry to be original, to start a new trend, to create, create, create can be daunting.

WHAT if what I do come up with just plain stinks?

There are myriad reasons why I should start later, but the truth is, "later" will come either way. It will come with or without my having proven to myself that I can do it. I might as well do it, right? Right.

SO. Here goes! Thanks for reading the novel length intro into the project!




WE are starting off with one of my favorite stories of all time. Me and the millions of other girls who just die in the last scene of the 2005 movie with Kiera Knightly + Matthew Macfayden. Am I right?


WHY I love this book:

AUSTEN does a wonderful iob in character development. Elizabeth Bennett is one of the most engaging and relatable literary characters I've ever met. Her judgement calls are of course flawed and so human but propel the story in such a way that I forget how long I've been reading and just want to keep flipping the pages. I always wonder what she's going to do or say next, even though I've known how the book ends for years and years now. 



I use a variety of different mediums to create my piece. Lately I've been loving black ink. It's simple, I don't have to worry about color just yet, drys super fast and scans great! Play around with whatever works for you! 

I always draw everything out by hand and then scan it all into the computer. It helps me to think in "parts" as opposed to designing a "finished" piece on paper.  My creativity comes in once I've got all the different elements I want to work with, then I can build my piece from there. This process is fluid, not as much pressure to get it right that first time in my sketch book and I can change, edit colors or go back to the drawing board if nothing fits together.  This way, I come up with several different options as opposed to being limited by one piece. Make sense?

I use a variety of different mediums to create my piece. Lately I've been loving black ink. It's simple, I don't have to worry about color just yet, it drys super fast and scans great!

I knew I wanted to incorporate flowers (I rarely do this in any of my work but lately have been drawn to them), leaves, a giant ampersand, branches, hearts and other quirky patterns. Now that's A LOT of elements to work with, but it was all in my head and I've got to work with what I "see" in my mind. I find out later what fits or doesn't.

Once everything is scanned into the computer, that's my time to play. Sometimes it comes instantly, others I'll spend an hour just playing with different aesthetics.  My first instinct is usually where I land.

For this book cover, since I had so many illustrations I wanted to incorporate, I ended up doing two different covers. Hope you like them as much as I do!



Which one is your favorite?


See you next Friday...I'll be doing JANE EYRE.


Isabel Davis



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