Latin American Ilustracion: Brazilian Artist Nik Neves Win Again

By David Schonauer   Monday November 24, 2014

This week we begin spotlighting winners of the Latin American Fotografia and Latin American Ilustracion 3 competitions, starting with Brazilian artist Nik Nevis, who was also a winner of LAI 1 and LAI 2. In those contests, Neves entered work inspired by his travels to London and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. This time he entered a different type of illustration—a book cover. The book, called Juvenilia, is a collection of early stories by the English writers Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte that was being brought out in Brazil by Cia. das Letras, one of the country’s biggest publishing houses, in association with Penguin Books.

“It took me a while to come up with an idea,” says Neves. “I had to deal with two different authors and two different stories that were not exactly alike.”

It was Neves’s wife, the Brazilian visual artist Marina Camargo, who suggested the idea that he finally used for the illustration. At the time, Camargo, a feminist, was reading A Room of One’s Own, the essay by Virginia Wolfe about women writers—including Austen and the Bronte sisters—and their place in literature.

“She gave me the concept of showing blank silhouettes of the writers over Victorian wallpaper,” Neves says. “Marina explained to me how Wolfe’s book was about just that—the importance of a place of individuality and solitude for an artist/writer inside the daily life. The artwork is a sort of metaphor for the role of women at that moment in time.”

The wallpaper background was inspired by the work of 19th-century English designer and artist William Morris. “I never had created a pattern as a wallpaper paper before. It's really complex to make all sides connect while looking continuous at same time,” says Neves.

Cia. das Letras recently commissioned Neves to create the cover for another book, David Foster Wallace’s modern masterpiece Infinite Jest. His work is also included in the latest edition of the Illustration Now book series from Taschen.

In addition to that, and the honor of again being chosen as a winner of the LAI contest, another Neves book cover was also selected in AI-AP’s American Illustration 33 competition. That winning work was for the Brazilian edition of Bullet Park, American writer John Cheever’s novel about a father and son’s fateful encounter with a psychotic man.

“For that cover, I used the contrast between the isolated house with a dark silhouette. I used a romantic script to balance the dark scene with the laconic suburban landscape,” Neves says.


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Dispatches from Latin America