One of the major difficulties of collaborative projects, where many different people are contributing images, is to bring the whole thing together visually. We knew that our “map,” with images from 7 different groups of 2 people, would look pretty crazy when it was all jammed together on the same surface. We took a cue from the historical images that we were looking at (by Johannes Buno, see the post below) and realized that we could bring the disparate images together in two ways: 1) by using a unifying image underneath (which was kind of the point of the thing in the first place), and 2) by “flattening” the images through technique and color. They were all, of course, going to be letterpress printed (from photopolymer) but we worked them over digitally to sharpen and flatten the images into solid colors. We also decided to add a second color, to accent and articulate each image. The same second color would be used in all of the images, over the entire map. We chose not to make the films for the second color digitally, but to use hand-cut rubylith stencils.
One of the students, Sonora Miller, drew our dragon image. It combines aspects of both eastern and western dragons. The dragon would cover the entire surface of each side of the map, but reversed on the second side so that the two images would back up correctly, and the smaller images and text would be on the same place on the dragon on both sides.
We wanted to make the map big (roughly 20” x 27.5”), print it on the big press (a Vandercook Universal IV), and then have it fold up into a smaller booklet. The only problem with that plan was the size of our platemaker, which is only 11” x 17”. Nothing like a first project to run into every possible logistical problem that could come up….