Noma Bar Negative Space

Noma Bar says that his book Negative Space covers topics including “apocalypse, addiction, cancer, crime, death, depression, drugs, homelessness, greed, power, racism, religion, gossip, sexuality, hate, violence, and more.”

This presents a couple of challenges, he admits: “So, how do you do a cover for that?”

The book’s title is a play on the subjects of the illustrations, as well as referencing the artistic concept of negative space. Bar says he began sketching and had many options eventually settling on the basic idea of a dog eating a cat that’s eating a mouse.

“The idea came out of the large eating the medium eating the small, and is a metaphor for power and the strong surviving,” explains Bar.

The image changed considerably: “In the sketches, I started out with this big Labrador, who was quite friendly, but the dog became more pit bull terrier in profile. Then the spine of the book became the collar of the dog and the back became the body. Between the dog’s legs a coffin appeared, and so there was a lot to discover.”

In order to fit with the streamlined artwork, Bar says the cover’s text was heavily refined: “The book didn’t work with big type nor ‘trendy’ fonts lacking negative space between the letters – it cheapened the whole thing, which was meant to be a really powerful image.

“There was a contradiction between type and image, and the image won – the type became small and in line with the ear of the dog. And everything built together, so I added a hint of red in the dog’s teeth that was in my name as well. I’m pleased with the cover – it has a timeless feel about it.”

Claudia Cimpan did some serious refinement on a piece on the theme, ‘The Beast’.

“I initially wanted the wolf to be untouched – to have a clean look – but realized this didn’t fit the concept and looked too commonplace,” explains Cimpan.

She then tried “creating an ambience” around the wolf’s head, but wasn’t happy with the result.

“The turning point was adding an isometric grid. By working on this pattern, the image came to life – I started adding, subtracting, scaling. This raises doubt about the number of wolves present and creating a more dynamic image.”