Featured Artist: Allison Connell

Allison Connell-340 Days

I previously wrote about Allison Connell’s brilliant 340 Days on my post called, A Year Bound. 340days.com is a 12 month project by the talented graphic designer, Allison Connell. The project consisted of twelve hand-bound books (one each month) that were each filled with her writings, illustrations, and collages. As she states on her site, it is “a visual library of sorts.” I encourage you to go check her site out and see all the details of each month’s book.

Name, age, location
Allison Connell, 22
I recently moved to Brooklyn, NY. I am originally from the Minneapolis area, but prior to moving was living and attending school in Iowa.

Is this a full time business for you?
No, I work as a graphic designer; I do the bookbinding and related projects in my spare time.

Why did you choose paper as your medium?
Paper is a very convenient medium.. it’s easily accessible and easy to work with. Even if I don’t have nice paper, there are always scraps or newspaper to play with instead.

May 2009

© Allison Connell All Rights Reserved

Inside May’s book:

© Allison Connell All Rights Reserved

What led you to this?
My 340 days project basically started out as an excuse to do more bookbinding and to get off the computer and do more with my hands. Because I was in my senior year in school then, it eventually grew and turned into an Honors Thesis project. Another reason that a few months after starting the project, I was going to be studying abroad in Rome, so wanted to be in the habit of doing a little bit of journaling while I was there.

Where do you collect the pieces for your work?
The majority of the paper and materials I used for each book was just stuff I had lying around. I tore up sketchbooks and used leftover paper from other projects for each book. Using things I already had left me with no excuses for not doing something.

I always keep basic bookbinding supplies around (linen thread, needles, an awl, bone folder, etc), but those are easy to find on sites like Hollander’s or Talas. I often get large sheets of drawing paper from art supply stores, but also occasionally order samples from paper manufacturers (such as Neenah).

Do you ever feel “artist’s block”, and if so how do you overcome it?
Every once in a while, I do. I’ve found that the best way to get over it is to get away from it for a bit and do something unrelated, mundane and mindless, such as cleaning, going for a walk, or showering. That clears the mind and gives you a fresh place to start.

September 2009

© Allison Connell All Rights Reserved

Inside September’s book:

© Allison Connell All Rights Reserved

How would you describe your style?
The 340 Days project was all about exploring many different styles and seeing where they would take me, so I don’t feel like I have much of a style. Also, being a young graphic designer, it’s important for me to be a chameleon and be able to apply a plethora of styles to my work.

Who are some of your favorite artists and sites?
One artist I love that influenced my 340 Days project was Maira Kalman. I love the stream-of-consciousness feel to her style and books. I’ve also always loved Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha and would love to be Dutch graphic designer Irma Boom, who specializes in books.

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
The very last thing that mad me laugh out loud is this Julia Sweeney monologue about Sex Ed that I watched just before answering these questions. 😉 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtube_gdata_player&v=Ry-LwxR746s)

November 2009

© Allison Connell All Rights Reserved

Inside November’s book:

© Allison Connell All Rights Reserved

What is your favorite planner, binder, anything you use daily?
I bound myself a small book that I carry around with me almost everywhere. It’s mostly filled with shopping lists and little maps that are illegible to anyone else, but it’s nice to have somewhere to jot down thoughts at any time.

Why do you love journaling?
I’ve actually always been really terrible at journaling, haha! I’ve always been a bit jealous of people that were good at it, so have tried (and failed) multiple times.

These books were a little bit easier because I didn’t feel obligated to say something insightful or give an account of my life. I love looking back through these books, though, because they trigger a lot of memories of small things I think I would have forgotten by now.

How do you start one of your journals?
For making the journals, I usually start with picking a binding style. Sometimes I don’t have as much time and pick something basic that I already know how to do, and other times, I thumb through my Keith Smith bookbinding books (which are awesome) to see what grabs me. For starting the journal itself, my rules for my project were that I had to do a spread each day, so having it scheduled in my day made it easier to keep up with.

December 2009

© Allison Connell All Rights Reserved

Inside December’s book:

© Allison Connell All Rights Reserved

© Allison Connell All Rights Reserved

You must have a lot of fun hobbies and interests, any you can tell me about?
I’m a big fan of baking and cooking… and love dinner parties for that reason. I like finding something a little bit complicated and spending a good chunk of time preparing everything (and eating it too, of course!)

What’s your favorite coffee?
The best coffee I’ve had was in Italy, but Stumptown makes some pretty dang good coffee here too. I love cappuccinos and iced coffee.

Any small ideas you can include to help others create something small and from the heart to start out with?
Starting with nothing can be pretty daunting, so I find it often helps to just lay something big down right away so you don’t agonize over making something perfect from the start. Gluing a big chunk of paper or making a large mark on your piece of paper are a couple easy ways to do that. If it’s not what you want, you can always call that one practice and start again.

April 2010

© Allison Connell All Rights Reserved

Inside April’s book:

© Allison Connell All Rights Reserved

© Allison Connell All Rights Reserved

To read more about this project, visit the site:

340days.com

To see more of Allison Connell’s work go to:

abconnell.com

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