Pets & Plants

Editorial . Book . Typography .
Pets & Plants is a book that narrates the compilation of my care advice and personal experience for keeping both plants and pets in your home.

At the beginning of my journey to being a loving cat and plant mom, poison prevention wasn’t an initial consideration that came to mind, but my main goal throughout this journey is to keep both my fur and botanic babies alive. When going through my journey I found it difficult to constantly go back and forth between choosing plants around me and searching plants online and without killing my phone. This book was primarily made to be a travel-sized knowledge bank for easy, plant care information sourcing when on the go without draining your data and phone battery. It was designed to be easy to navigate, with plant care information detailed on manila pages, and further narrative of personal stories, advice and fun animal antics on white pages. I wanted to create an all in one ‘travel-sized guide’ that would share my personal experiences and advice regarding non-toxic plants and how my cats do sharing a space with them, as well as basic care requirements for easy information sourcing when plant shopping out and about.

With plants being the main content, I wanted to design the book in a style that naturally complimented the information and content. I found the botanic theme blends very seamlessly with the art nouveau style, with organic swatches and florals as constant motifs. I based the illustration style and typography on art nouveau books as well as their decorative feel and colour palettes.
Dimensions
5" x 7"
Spread 10" x 7"
Duration
November 2019 - December 2019
1 month
Tools
Photoshop
Illustrator
InDesign
Materials
Lazer Cutter
Metal Coil
Art Board
Manila Paper
Nepalese Paper
60lb Recycled Paper
Kiku Gold Paper
Corduroy
White Glue
Wheat Paste
Going into this project I knew exactly what I wanted to do, a pet safe plant book that was relatable in its narrative, informative in its advice, and durable and easy to hold in one hand for the convenience of shopping. Having a good starting grasp of the purpose, contents, identity and voice of the book, I needed to create a visual aesthetic the would compliment the book. I started this process with looking for and collecting book design inspiration; I found myself very heavily drawn to and influenced by the art nouveau style of book cover. I very much enjoyed and thought the art nouveau style paired well with the organic and botanical contents of the book. It also brings in the element of something slightly homey and warm, which is something I wanted to visually come across in the book.

The next step in my process was to solidify the plant illustration and/or image style. I wanted imagery that would both match the art nouveau style, but also showcase a variety of organic shapes, colours and textures of the plants; many non-toxic plant genus e multiple plant species with very distinct and different growth patterns, coloration and stem and leaf textures. This aspect of variety is something I wanted to showcase because as a pet owner there is already the limitation of needing to find non-toxic plants which sometimes doesn't allow for much visual variety

I then moved onto the process of figuring out how I wanted to create my spreads and layout my information and narrative. I went out to my local BMV and a few other bookstores and found other various plant books, I analyzed the way they sorted out their information and took note of the differences, similarities and what I thought worked and what didn't. I also looked at how they showcased the plants, whether it be through staged photography, illustration and the colour combinations used.

Since I wanted my book to be able to be held with just one hand for easy handling when going out plant shopping, I knew I wanted to have a coil bound book, but in doing so knew that I needed to be able to make a coil bound book look like it was done with purpose and quality. While still doing some outdoor/in real life observation and research, I found several different coil bound books that I thought used the coil bound method in an interesting way. Though I ended up not using a special method in my coil binding, it was interesting and informative to see how others got creative using a simple binding method. I also found a personal notebook of my own which I really enjoyed the size and feel of, and is what I based the size and shape of Pets & Plants on.
Research
When initially looking for materials for this book, I knew I wanted to stick to a very earthy and organic colour scheme using greens and some nude or neutral colours. When going out to source different materials, I first found a green floral print nepalese paper which I thought was a great first element to incorporate.

Knowing that I wanted to use this paper for the cover or as a large accent used within the book, I searched for a complimenting set of papers to use for the body and content of the book. I decided on two paper types for the interior pages to act as a differentiation between narrative and information pages for easier use when on the go; having the manila pages be strictly care information makes it easier to find and flip to the desired content when out plant shopping.

After some deliberation I decided the green nepalese paper would be best used as the end pages and backing of the covers since I wanted to emulate the debossing and foiling done on many art nouveau style covers; I thought the nepalese paper would be too busy of a pattern for the cover if I also wanted to implement the gold debossing. Now in search for a new paper or fabric for the cover to pair with the paper I already want to incorporate, I came across a light and delicate forest green corduroy fabric. This corduroy would create a nice feeling texture for the cover while simultaneously being a better base for the metallic gold from underneath to shine through.

When looking for metallic gold paper to use for emulating a debossed design, I wanted a paper that was not simply just a metallic sheet of gold but something with a slight texture or pattern in order to create an interesting gold instead of a flat gold.

Once my materials were collected I needed to create the actual content to go inside the book. I compiled a list of 15 non-toxic/pet safe houseplants that I own and wrote about their care needs as well as my advice and experience with keeping that specific plant and how my cats interact with it. With my written content solidified, I began drawing/illustrating the plants and cats in my desired style as well as began taking photos of and cropping out the images of the plants. Although it ended up becoming undocumented, cropping out all the plant images was a gruelling and taxing job, but thanks to a source I found, a few of the cropped images came free (for personal use only).

When designing the cover I kept in the mind being able to keep each element large enough to be lazer cut out without issue, and to create little arms to hold all the counters in. I did various test cuts with some aspects of the plant image and the letters with counters in order to insure everything stayed in place. I also did a small test strip to see how the gold would adhere and show through. After I felt confident enough with my test piece, I treated my cover with the corduroy and then lazer cut the design, finally I pasted the gold paper on the back and finished with a layer of the nepalese paper.

After creating and laying out the content, the finishing touches and final production began to happen, this means test printing. In order to have the cats print the same colour as the manila paper meant many test prints with varying colour and tint and opacity combinations. There were also test prints done to check for type size, leading, readability and of course the typesetting.

The final step is to coil punch the book and slide the coil through.
Production
With everything completed but a deadline approaching, the project was submitted with little time for photography. I still took the opportunity to attempt to experiment further with product photography and creating sets and scenes. This was an at home photoshoot done with an arrangement of a few of my own non-toxic plants, all of which are talked about and referred to in the book, and lit with a few of my LED grow lights. I had no time to compose any close up shots or create different backgrounds or settings, but I did have lots of fun and felt truly fulfilled with the project after having had the ability to shoot it at all and see some of its potential in time for submission.
Product Photography