Jean McEwan

I discovered Jean’s work when exploring the Bristol Artists’ Book Events and The Lost Weekend. Luckily, her zine ‘I am blue sky’ was available online to flick through, but I was desperate to hold one of her zines in my hands. Three of her artist books were featured in The Lost Weekend: I am blue sky, We find ways, and Games of now. I ordered these three from her, which arrived today. I took some time to browse through them, looking at the imagery, text and layout. She also sent me a lovely little book about breathing and mindfulness, which I thought was super cute and felt very natural too, with rough paper, a tree bark texture and type writer text.

I think the main reason I enjoy Jean’s work so much is that it feels very authentic and personal. It’s as if I’m reading someone’s thoughts and inspiration, in an intimate scrapbook. The collage uses rips and tears and cuts to create layers of patterns, images and textures. She also uses space a lot – she’ll use a cut-out for an image and leave space, which creates a thoughtful page. I think the way she lays out her pages is clever – my eyes follow the text (she tends to create a path of words or a chunk of words or even a burst of words) and the images all reinforce her messages. The mixture of handwritten and typed text is also pleasing to look at – like a scrapbook.

In terms of my final project, I’d like to achieve this same textural effect (even though the paper is smooth with a matt laminate finish in her ‘I am blue sky’ and ‘Games of now’, the pages seem very textured, because of the way she uses collages and builds up layers). It has provided me with inspiration as to how to include tactile methods – I’d like to combine both analogue and digital methods for my final book. It’s a great example of how collage can be used, both for image and text.

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