About this project
My name is Jess Shepherd (aka Inky Leaves), I am a botanical painter and I would love to have your support to help turn an illustrated book into a reality.
Wow, that leaf behind you is huge!
Yes, it's a whopper isn't it?! I have been busily painting over 30 of these giant leaves with all their details for the past 18 months. Now nearing completion, this collection of leaves will be exhibited in a solo exhibition at Abbott and Holder in London between 16-25 February 2017. Most of them are supersized and very different to traditional botanical paintings in their scale.
Capturing the essence of a leaf
This collection of paintings is a chronicle of discovery. The story began when I picked up a leaf from a London pavement in July 2014. At the time I was moving house and felt that the condition of the leaf told my own story. It had been scuffed by the streets of the city and was no longer attached to the tree, but blowing across the floor in the wind. Like me, it was on the move.
After carefully painting this leaf I was drawn to paint another and another. Eventually, after months of painting these leaf portraits, all from different moments in time and place, I have created a visual story.
For the past two years I have also collected all the environmental sounds from where each leaf was growing. The resulting soundtrack is now being arranged by musician Hoodlum Priest in his Brighton recording studio in England. I bring you sounds from London’s East End, where the journey begins, to the Sussex seaside and down to Granada in Spain where you can hear birdsong and the rhythmic clanging of goat bells. The idea of recording sound introduces a completely new element to botanical art.
If successful, this Kickstarter Project will help me to produce 500 copies of a beautifully laid out book and soundtrack that tells the 'Leafscape' story; marking an historical moment in the lifeline of botanical art.
What is 'Leafscape'?
'Leafscape' is my way of catapulting botanical art into the 21st century with the use of sound and watercolour paint. The collection is a journey through a botanical dystopia, where leaves can be found growing on the margins of human civilisation. My driving ambition has always been to show the world how beautiful nature is in the most unexpected ways. In all of my work I try to give plants a voice.
What will the book look like?
This book will be limited to only 500 copies and will have a white cloth hardcover with embossed foil text on the front and sewn binding to create a highly collectable volume. The book itself will measure 215 x 300mm (8.35 x 12 in), consist of approximately 60 pages and will be printed using litho press. The book will feature an introduction written by the artist in both English and Spanish and will have a full colour plate of every painting in the collection. Included with this book will be a copy of the environmental soundtrack on CD. Each book will be signed and numbered by the artist and can be personalised at your request.
If we smash through £20k then I will add a beautiful slip box to every deluxe limited edition book sold. The book designers are confident that they can produce something very special. To help this along I have decided to release as rewards my two beloved Ginkgo leaves and a giant Poplar Leaf which are original watercolours and are both featured in the book.
I am also gifting 11 copies to the following institutions with public libraries so that the book can be still be seen by those with an interest in scientific illustration, botany and fine art:
The British Library
The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
New York Botanic Garden
Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
Denver Botanic Gardens
The Linnean Society of London
Real Jardín Botánico in Madrid
Lindley Library of the Royal Horticultural Society London
The Duchy of Cornwall
The Chelsea Physic Garden
How are you printing this book?
I have chosen to print this book lithographically as it produces a superior product. Using real inks, this form of printing will ensure that the paintings in the book will look more vibrant and true to life.
What will be on the audio CD?
The continuous 60 minute CD soundtrack documents the outside sounds taken from where each leaf was growing at the time it was found. Tracks vary from birdsong, running water and the cicadas in Spain to the hustle and bustle of the streets of London. The disc will come with it's own protective envelope in the back of the book.
Why are you using Kickstarter and not a publisher?
I thought a long time about whether to offer this book to a mainstream publisher, but I wanted to create a unique, beautiful volume for my supporters and not submit to the compromises of the marketplace. By using Kickstarter I can maintain creative control and personally assure product quality.
Q&A: If you have any questions at all about the rewards or exhibition, don't hesitate to message me through Kickstarter, I'd be happy to walk you through the process and talk about the work.
Spread the Word: I am the only one managing this project, so there's a lot of communication required on my part to spread the word. So please feel free to encourage others to get involved as the success of this campaign will directly determine what we can accomplish together in 2017. Kickstarter has very kindly supplied us with a 'share' button at the top of this page for you to use.
Thank you so much for your support. I am looking forward to getting to know you in the months to come.
Risks and challenges
The printer who will produce the book and greetings cards has been identified. We have samples of the paper and binding and I will be colour proofing the printed images before the main print run goes ahead to ensure quality. The printers are local and I have used them in the past with other printing requests. This makes it easier to tackle any problems that occur during printing, whilst also supporting a local business.
The printer who makes the fine art prints that come with some of the rewards is also local and someone I have used for the past six years. He scans and colour balances every piece with the original next to him so that all colours match. I have samples from his handy work and consider him incredibly professional and reliable.
All of the books and prints will be shipped with insurance and will be securely packaged.
The paintings for the book are complete, but I have taken into account possible delays in the design and printing schedule due to any unforeseen circumstances when setting the delivery date for the books.
I've never printed a book before and I know that any new venture incurs a risk. To ensure this project works out I have decided to work with a local printing company that specializes in helping independent creators publish crowdfunded projects. I'm going to be leaning on their expertise to make sure that everything runs smoothly.
Will this be late?
I of course hope not. However I do promise to be transparent and as helpful as I can during and after this project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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