Impossible the Next

Happy New Year! I want to share a book cover I did back in 2013… it’s called Impossible the Next by Paul Karp.

I did the cover art and design for this postmodern Australian novel

The novel takes place in Sydney, Australia and follows a travel writer who tells tall tales about Sydney’s historical landmarks. The origins of Camp Cove, the Sydney Opera House, the Queen Victoria Building and the Harbour Bridge, among others, are reworked into fanciful bits of fiction. Even Governor Lachlan Macquarie and his wife are scandalized by a revised history involving some awesome gender-bending.

I had my pick of Sydney landmarks to include on the cover. The author, Paul Karp, suggested that the Opera House or the Harbour Bridge would be most iconic. He wanted a surrealist bent to the art… such as the Opera House melting like a Dali clock or the Harbor Bridge unraveling in a gross denial of physics. The latter piqued my interest. It sounded like a real challenge…

Sketches for the Sydney Harbor Bridge "unraveling"

I wished sorely that I could have taken a trip to Australia for this assignment. Someday I will and I’ll get to see the magnificent Harbor Bridge in person. In the meantime, I had to do a lot of research on the famous landmark and built a model for myself to take some reference photos from. My model was constructed from pipecleaners for the arch trusses, string for girders and chalk boxes for the two pylons, but when placed in the bright California sun, gave me a fairly good idea of what an unraveling bridge would be like… terrifying!

My humble bridge model

After agonizing over some perspective issues, I brought my final sketch into the computer and executed the final art digitally on my tablet. I worked layer upon layer, and brought in some painted papers as texture.

A pieced of painted scratch paper that I used for background texture in my illustration

After some intense noodling, I achieved a fittingly surreal bridge. My finishing touches were the splashes as the arch trusses and girders entered the harbor waters. Someday, I’d love to do the BridgeClimb. Maybe when the bridge turns 100 in 2032.

My finished art of the Bridge unraveling

You can find out more about the novel here. Also, be sure to check out my other illustration done for Paul’s brother St John’s book Radium Baby.