This Folio Life: A New Year, a New Office (a new art form?)

January finds Folio south of the river once more, having swapped the refined greens of Bloomsbury for the more muddy reaches of Horsleydown. London opens up past Tower Bridge, and the light by the river takes on a different quality which reminds me of one of my favourite passages of Conrad’s, in Heart Of Darkness as Marlow commences his tale aboard a merchant yawl: ‘The sea-reach of the Thames stretched before us…’, he begins.

Heart of Darkness from The Folio Society, illustration by Sean McSorley

Heart of Darkness from The Folio Society, illustrated by Sean McSorley

A while back, and for obvious reasons, a friend recommended that I read Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man – what better book for the fiction editor at Folio? (We have already published Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles.) I finally got round to it recently, and it was of course a joy. Bradbury’s disinterest in character is quite pronounced but his imagination is riotous and hard to equal. The Illustrated Man did not disappoint in either area: a series of futurist short stories connected by the tattoos on a man’s body. The kind of pure storytelling, in fact, which Conrad would be quite alive to.

I am unable nowadays to read a book without imagining how it might be illustrated, and this of course put me in mind of a rather strange suggestion from another friend a few years ago – that Folio might commission a tattoo artist to illustrate a book. Well, Mr Bradbury’s would certainly be the one to start with. A new Folio art form for a new year in a new office, anyone?

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  • Gregg Narber says:

    Actually, that sounds like a great idea. Nonetheless, what the man has on his body are described as “illustrations” rather than conventional tattoos. You would need a special kind of tattoo artist.

  • Lawrence Wood says:

    Get Tony Fitzpatrick, a terrific Chicago artist whose paintings look like tattoos.