The Grief Hole Illustrated: News and Pre-Orders

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The Grief Hole Illustrated: An Artist’s Sketchbook Companion to Kaaron Warren’s Supernatural Thriller, by Keely Van Order will be released next month. Those who ordered it as part of the Limited Edition offer for The Grief Hole are locked in for shipment as soon as the book is printed, but we are offering an excellent preorder price for Australian readers only right now: $36.95 including shipping and GST. This offer will cease in early February 2017.

Kaaron Warren’s novel, The Grief Hole, is fast becoming a dark literary classic, and it was enhanced by internal illustrations, and cover art/design by Canberra-based artist, Keely Van Order.

This art portfolio traces Keely’s passage to the final illustrations and designs, including variations on themes, mood sketches, and pieces of art that were worthy of publishing, but just didn’t quite make it the limited number required for the final product. Keely provides notes on her journey and includes excerpts from The Grief Hole that enables the viewer insight into the direct sources of inspiration for the art.

Keely Van Order’s art and design for The Grief Hole, compiled in this beautiful book, is an apt companion volume to the novel, and captures the spirit of Kaaron Warren’s masterpiece as a stand alone work.

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The Grief Hole Illustrated is 74 pages in length with premium colour printing and paper. It is hard cover with matte finish lamination. To showcase Keely’s work, the book is 280 x 216mm in size (11″ x 8.5″).

CLICK HERE to preorder Keely’s magnificent work for AU$36.95 (Australia only, GST and Shipping included)  It will retail in Australia for $39.95 (GST include, not shipping).

Nick Stathopoulos, the eminent Australian artist, has the following to say in the Introduction to this art portfolio:

NEVER SEEN THE SAME BY ANY TWO PEOPLE

Where teenagers would go to suicide

                         …this was the picture I started with and took the project from here.”

And so begins Keely Van Order’s harrowing journey illustrating Kaaron Warren’s disturbing and dark fantasy The Grief Hole.

This was no ordinary commission.

But then this was no ordinary story. In this portfolio we follow Keely’s creative journey; her conceptual explorations with styles, with techniques, with fonts. Here we have sketches, detailed notes, cover variants, final art, and work rejected due to printing concerns. We get a sense of what she was feeling as she worked through the book. We share her determination to reveal the face of the charismatic, shaman-like Sol Evictus, to unmask him, to deny him being reduced to a mythological archetype. To make him real. And this is where the value of an illustration can override a reader’s imagination.

Throughout publishing history we have great collaborations between writers and artists. Can you imagine A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh without the fragile delicacy of E. H. Shepard, or Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland without the slightly psychotic John Tenniel, or John Marsden’s The Rabbits without the politically savvy Shaun Tan? And now we have Keely Van Order’s dark, brooding, melancholia. Kaaron Warren is a fortunate author indeed.

I’m one of those people who watches all the extras on a blu-ray disc. Partly because I enjoy that insight into how visual effects are created, and what they decided to leave on the (now digital) cutting room floor; and partly because I always harbored ambitions to work in the film industry myself.

Despite knowing the magician’s tricks, I can still draw a distinction between the behind-the-scenes details, suspend my disbelief, and enjoy the movie—not as some technical exercise—but as a piece of pure story-telling. Although I did work peripherally in the film industry, most of my career was directed towards graphic design and illustration. Which means this portfolio is like one of those blu-ray extras for illustrators.

Very few people realize or appreciate how much effort an artist puts into creating work for a book. What makes this a particularly unusual and challenging project is that this story involves an artist sent to capture the faces of dying teenagers—who in doing so dies in a ‘grief hole’. And in taking this project on, Keely has in many ways become that artist, taken on that persona. This is not a happy head-space.

When illustrating a manuscript, an artist doesn’t casually read it. They diligently scour every word to find those key pivotal moments that have the highest emotional and visual impact. As you turn every page of this portfolio, you can see Keely immersing herself in Kaaron’s bleak world, where each word takes on a deeper meaning, evoking a mood, stimulating the possibility of a visual interpretation. This level of engagement makes for great art.

On a purely artistic level, despite Keely’s distinctive, idiosyncratic style, do I detect echoes of an Eastern European aesthetic—perhaps Czech? I’m now thinking of those bizarre Polish and Czech movie posters that have nothing whatsoever to do with the films they are meant to be spruiking, yet remain intriguing works of art on their own terms. Do I sense the influence of cover artists I grew up with – Richard Powers, or Bruce Pennington—hovering around Keely like the ghosts Theresa sees? Perhaps. Or perhaps that’s just me making connections with the artists who served as my inspirations. But then again, like the grief holes themselves, these things are “never seen the same by any two people”.

So look carefully. I’m trusting that after dutifully examining each sketch, each note-to-self, each final illustration, you might glean just what an extraordinary collective work of art Keely Van Order has created. In this case, knowing the magician’s tricks enhances Kaaron’s world.

And a personal thank you to Gerry Huntman for having the foresight and wisdom to connect Keely with Kaaron—a true symbiotic relationship—and for publishing this portfolio. It’s not often we are granted the opportunity to take a peek into an artist’s process, especially in such a handsome format.

Cover Reveal: The Grief Hole Illustrated

We are pleased that Keely Van Order‘s art portfolio collection of the illustrations contributing to The Grief Hole are well underway and will be available for sale in December (with preorders coming out in the next week or two).

In the meantime, the following is the working cover at this time, for your viewing pleasure.

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News: Art Book Signing With Keely Van Order

Sometimes collaborations are formed serendipitously, rather than by solicitation and design. This is such a case.

Keely is currently commissioned to do the artwork and design for Kaaron Warren’s The Grief Hole, to be released in August 2016 – no small task as it involves 6 internal pieces and two covers (hardback and paperback). When Kaaron and the IFWG team saw the early pieces, many ‘rough’ and ‘optional’ as well as mood board illustrations, we starting thinking: we have many pages of wow art here, most of which will have little exposure to those interested in Kaaron’s novel.

It didn’t take long for IFWG Publishing Australia to approach Keely (and Kaaron) to separately publish an art folio title, largely showcasing the art that contributed to The Grief Hole (and some), but also including notes by the artist, and a format that shows the way some of the final pieces came to be. Additionally, it will be presented with excerpts from The Grief Hole, to add a high level graphic representation of the novel.

We are excited to announce that Keely Van Order has signed on with IFWG Publishing Australia to have this work produced (title still being determined), with a huge nod to Kaaron for allowing her novel to be depicted in a unique manner (and to access excerpts), as well as the highly respected artist, Nick Stathopoulos, who will provide the introduction.

We are still determining a manageable schedule for this project, but we will certainly be offering preorder signed editions to those who preorder the signed editions of The Grief Hole. Ideally, we would love to have the book available at the same time as Kaaron’s launch.

We will provide more information on this exciting, unique project through our social media outlets and this web site.