Saturday, August 6, 2011

AMTRAK

For 4 months last year I was occupied with creating a 32 page kids activity book with the good folks at Arnold advertising for Amtrak. The book was 'released' on National Train Day (May 7th) with a print run of 150,000. I believe you can buy the books on the trains, but I haven't heard any reports of people finding them yet! (soon, I'm sure!)
I wanted to share my work with you guys, and give a major thanks to the team I worked with at Arnold and everyone who was involved in the project, which included Jamin Hoyle, Lisa Biskin, Andrea Ricker, Bob Petkofsky, Bill Cutter, Meredith Wadeson, and Christine Vaz. Thank you!!

I haven't included any of the added text with my images, except for the titles of the pages, all of which I hand-lettered (so i won't spoil it for you in case you want to complete the activity book!) ;)
This post is going to be a little longer than normal due to the amount of work I did, so bear with me...

First up, the cover sketches!
Arnold contacted 5 artists, including me, to create a potential cover for the book and give Amtrak some choice in what style they wanted to go for. The cover needed to be able to fit with the Amtrak aesthetic to a certain point, but also be fresh and kid-friendly. A lot of Amtrak's logos/advertisements already have a slight art deco feel to them, so I thought the kids book could also have a sort of decorative graphicness to it that went along with the style. Here's the sketches I sent to them:


They ended up choosing the 1st sketch as the direction they wanted to go for the kid's book, and my adventure began!

The Final Images!
The Arnold crew had worked with Amtrak to create a rough outline of what would be going on each page, and Lisa Biskin did all the copy writing for the book (they didn't expect me to come up with the word search or anything, just the illustrations for it).
Jamin provided me with rough thumbnails of what should generally be happening on each page, but gave me a lot of creative freedom to shape the book my own way. For instance, on some of the text-heavy pages, he told me there needed to be some sort of decorations around the edges.


After thinking about the kinds of picture books I liked as a kid, I came up with the idea of creating tiny landscapes that the amtrak train would be rolling through. Some examples:


(this one doesn't have a train in it, but that's because you're supposed to draw your OWN train in the trainyard!)


There were also some page borders that had more of a story to tell:
(it was decided that Raccoons would be the villain of choice in the activity book-- you'll see them sneaking onto several other pages!)


And of course a variety of full spreads:
(this is probably one of the most time-consuming images I've done....when I was sketching it out in the beginning, I tried to only allow 15 minutes per person, and there's about 70 or 80 people in there. Can you spot Sam & I in the picture?? Hint: I'm drawing!)

(if you look close, I've made recurring characters throughout the book that show up on many of these character or group pages. The flower lady, the trophy man, the greaser, the archaeologist, the short man/tall woman couple, the cowboy, the sports fans, the magician, etc etc...)





(fun fact--I wish I was eating that deep dish pizza & Chicago style hotdog RIGHT NOW)




The finalized cover and back cover:

Amtrak requested that I simplify the cover a little more, but I was able to use some of the discarded elements on the back cover. The badge there can be punched out & worn proudly!

Finally, some photos of the physical book-- it printed out really great & the typography and layout are wonderful!
(fun fact: I DID make up all the Jr. Conductor secret handshake moves. Try 'em out yourself!)





I hope you check out the book yourself the next time you take a train! There's still a few pages I didn't show. All in all, this was a totally unique and exciting experience for me, and I felt so lucky that I was able to make the book my own, as well as Amtrak's. I hope I get a chance to do more projects like this.

24 comments:

Cameron K. Lewis said...

Wonderful. Love the colors.

Carly Monardo said...

Absolutely gorgeous work!

Owen said...

Beautiful work Kali! Just when I thought there couldn't be any more reasons to take public transportation...

kmarcotte said...

Love this!!! I want to take the train just to pick one up :)

John Sandford said...

¡¡¡¡¡WOWOWOW0WOW!!!

Marloes de Vries said...

Wow, that just looks stunning! Amazing work!

Annie Wu said...

Wonderful stuff, Kali!

Roxie said...

Love the random hot greaser in an awesome leather jacket

Scott Brundage said...

You are, like, scary good. And far too young. Please. Stop.

svario said...

Supeeeeeeercoool!

RAWLS said...

wow. This is beautiful!!

Cam Floyd said...

im floored! you are amazing

Marika McCoola said...

It looks fantastic. Love your palette.

K Cummings said...

I teach sunday school class for the five year olds at church. On Sunday one of the boys wasn't paying attention because he was Entranced with YOUR amtrak book. He literally could NOT put it down. I was so excited to get a look at it, I let him keep reading.

emily b said...

Fantastic work - I love it! You should be so proud of such a comprehensive project!

ADELA KANG said...

ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC ! ! !

Tarsila Kruse said...

Incredible work. :)

Kali Ciesemier said...

Thank you to each and every one of you! You guys are so kind! Thank you.

Cameron: My color secret= love red orange, turquoises, and yellow, and use them ALL THE TIME. Haha, I should try branching out. :)

Owen & KMarcotte: There's something kinda nostalgic about riding a train, right? I always think they're kinda fun! Let me know if you do & end up finding the book!

Roxie: Yup, a little somethin' for the bored moms out there...;)

Scott: No way!! You have NOTHING to worry about, my friend. I have the Benjamin Button disease, so I'm actually way old.

K Cummings: THIS is probably my favorite story ever, it makes me soooooo happy! Thank you for sharing it! (and not giving him too much trouble, haha. I hope my book isn't corrupting America's youth!)

Emily B: Aaa! Thank you, I am! It's by far my biggest project to date. Hooray! :D

Nick Iluzada said...

HOT DAMN. looks like i will be taking a train down to bmore just to grab one of these!

Keiko / Small Adventure said...

Holy crap! This is incredible!!

Maike said...

I'm speechless! This is so beautiful!

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cloud9design said...

Beautiful work! :)

~Amber
http://www.cloud9design.wordpress.com
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nutella said...

I realize this is an old post, but I just had to comment. My son (age 3) got his booklet at an Amtrak booth in DC a few weeks ago. We LOVE it, especially the design and color scheme and have decided to use it as the inspiration for our son's bedroom. He's asked for trains AND boats, so we we may do 2 adjacent walls with this train scheme and the other 2 with a vintage ocean liner feel. Thank you for the beautiful and inspiring design!