This Folio Life: When Maths and Illustration Collide

Raquel Leis Allion has been Art Director at the Folio Society for nearly four years. It’s her to job to commission illustrators and that means knowing each book inside out. Raquel also designs the bindings, as well as selecting the typography and materials for each edition. Here, she talks about the illustrator Kit Russell’s incredible designs for the Folio edition of We.

Kit Russell is an award-winning illustrator and graphic designer whose illustrations are notable for their simple yet sophisticated graphic approach, inspired by his interest in visual illusions and pseudoscience.

For these reasons, Kit was the obvious choice to illustrate our edition of We, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s dystopian novel.

A mathematical approach

Kit’s interests in maths and playing with flat imagery means that he is able to transform 2D images and text into 3D objects. He constructs his ideas using lenticular imagery – something that changes its appearance when viewed at different angles. Images created through lenticular design can be made to morph from one object into another and these illustrations make up a large part of Kit’s portfolio.

After discussing the brief, Kit came up with various designs for the binding, which you can see below.

Binding designs for We, The Folio Society 2018 Binding designs for We, The Folio Society 2018
Binding designs for We, The Folio Society 2018 Binding design for We, The Folio Society 2018 Binding designs for We, The Folio Society 2018

Following a review and some further tweaks to his original ideas, Kit supplied the final designs for the binding and the book slipcase.

Binding design for We, The Folio Society 2018 Binding design for We, The Folio Society 2018

The lenticular process

A square was die-cut into the side of the slipcase and a printed acetate sheet was fixed behind it, creating a window. This design was a manufacturing challenge as there’s a risk that, when the book is transferred into and out of the slipcase, it might rub against the acetate. This could cause wear and tear on the binding image, result in the migration of ink onto the acetate or eventually cause the acetate to shift out of position.

To prevent any of these scenarios, we employed extra resources and handwork. A large acetate sheet was carefully inserted down one side of each slipcase, in between the layers of board to ensure it was absolutely secure. This also created ease of movement for the novelty mechanism.

We used a pearlescent paper so that when the artwork was printed onto it, it not only looks gritty and industrial, but also emits a subtle glow that reflects the sense of awe in which one of the main characters, D-503, holds the One State.

Kit’s inspiration 

Kit said his idea for the binding was, “derived from a personal project I worked on at University. Raquel had seen the project on my website and had the foresight to apply this to the traditional Folio slipcase. The lenticular mechanism of the binding/slipcase increases reader interaction whilst the illusionary effect produced perfectly mimics the central characters changing mental state. The mathematical and regulated nature seemed fitting for the book. It’s a really simple idea but I think it’s quite effective.”


Find out more and order the Folio edition of We.

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Comments from others

  • mfujdala says:

    What a fascinating and informative article. Although I have to say I was amazed to see “Maths” in the title. I thought it was a typo until I saw it again in the body of the post. In America, this is not a word. Is it in general usage in Britain?

    • melaniec says:

      We’re so pleased you enjoyed the article! And yes, while ‘math’ is the US term, in the UK we use ‘maths’.

  • EI says:

    Slipcases are meant to protect the books; stop producing them with die-cuts please. There is a reason why great book publishers have not done this for hundreds of years.

    • melaniec says:

      Apologies if you do not enjoy the die cut slipcase designs. They still protect the books – we feel they can add an extra element to the editions.