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Moby Dick Illustrations! + a giveaway

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Moby Dick Illustrations! + a giveaway

Happy birthday to Herman Melville, best known as the author of Moby Dick, today! I have a really special post and giveaway in honor of his birthday. 

Ever been reading something, and you could picture the scene? Ever had the urge to make doodles and sketches in the margins? Well, illustrator Matt Kish went one step further. He took the entirety of Moby Dick, and created a drawing for each page (and there are 552 of them!) to create Moby Dick in Pictures, which is coming out this fall.

I love the idea, and I love the results. Here’s the page one illustration:

Call me Ishmael.Everything about this is awesome. The entire concept of taking a classic and creating an illustration for every page, the range of styles across the illustrations I’ve seen so far, the graffiti/tag style of this particular image, and the fact that the illustrator is posting random previews of the illustrations on their Twitter account before the book comes out (see it here: MobyDickInPics). No, I am not affiliated with the author or publisher in anyway – and am not getting paid to write this.

In case you haven’t noticed yet, I was really taken by this project. I asked Matt a few questions about it, and here’s what he said.

What made you decide to do this project?
In the late summer of 2009, I was feeling really creatively restless. I knew I wanted to be making something but I didn’t know what. I had no real direction. I knew about Zak Smith’s project illustrating every page of Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow and something about that gargantuan ambition and brutal discipline really appealed to me. Really, almost subconsciously, the idea to do something similar for Moby-Dick leapt into my head, which makes sense since it has been one of my favorite stories since I was a child. The project dovetailed nicely with everything that was going on for me then…restlessness, the desire to challenge myself, and the sense of accomplishment I knew I would have when I finished illustrating what would essentially be my own version of the novel. I decided to do one illustration per page, per day, until I was done with the entire thing and was able to more or less keep to that.

Does Moby Dick have a special meaning for you?
Not a single, specific meaning, but many. What continues to fascinate me is the richness of the novel, and how, no matter when I read it, I seem to see and learn and enjoy new facets and new ideas. The novel is a brilliant mosaic, deeply layered and endlessly complex. I am certainly no scholar, but I truly believe it is a novel that encompasses almost everything, and it remains surprisingly modern and timeless despite the challenging language. Just about everything anyone would need to know about life is somewhere in that book. Of that, I am convinced.

How long did it take you to illustrate the whole book?
This one is easy! I started on August 9, 2009 and finished on January 29, 2011. So that was 552 illustrations plus about 20 alternates and a handful of other unrelated art projects in 543 days. Sometimes I still can’t believe I actually did it.


I really like projects that are not only wonderful in their own right, but inspire me to do something cool too. What book would you illustrate if you could? What would your first page look like? Why not do it?

And now, the best part of today’s post! Because Matt is a such a nice guy, he offered to create an original ink & acrylic illustration for me to give away on this blog. This is it, though it looks even better in person (believe me, I was tempted to keep it for myself!) Want it? Read on for how you can win it.

The White Whale, ink & acrylic on found paper (an old TV repair diagram) 7.25" by 10.75"

To enter the contest:  comment here or on our Facebook page with what book YOU would illustrate if you could and I’ll pick my favorite as the winner. Deadline is August 15th.

Moby Dick in Pictures is due in October from Tin House Books. You can preorder it now from Amazon.

Have a wonderful day

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Have a wonderful day

So if you were wondering what I was planning to do with the little cards I showed you on Thursday (in case you missed it see here), I was going to distribute them yesterday but decided not to take a chance that they’d get ruined in the rain.

Here’s a better look at the cover:


And here’s the inside:

inside card

So this morning when I made my rounds I dropped some of them off at various places around town – a couple went to my favorite local shops, and a few at random places I’d never been to.

These were so easy to make! I used only materials I already had at hand. Here’s how I did it, but really your own creativity is the limit. Make some up for your friends, favorite business owners, or drop them off in random places where you think they might be appreciated. Who doesn’t like getting a card for no reason?


Card stock, pencil, a thin marker pen, assorted stamps and ink, hole puncher, flower brads, and ribbon


Fold card in half. I scored mine first to get a neater fold.

On the cover, draw a brief word or message in pencil – once you’re happy with how it looks, outline it in ink (or marker, or colored pencil). I chose to do a different pattern on each letter, but you could easily make it a solid color or the same pattern throughout.

On the inside, I used two stamps – one for the flower and one for the “have a wonderful day.” If you don’t have stamps you can freehand it – the idea is not to spend ages making “art” but to keep it whimsical and fun.

Finally, I punched a hole in the corner so I could thread the ribbon through and hang it on doorknobs. I added the flower brads through the front cover hole only for decoration.

That’s it! Distribute to anyone you think could use a good day, and make sure to tell them to spread the love.

By the way, I have a few more of these left, so if you didn’t get one yet, there’s still a chance you’ll see one somewhere around town tomorrow.