Litographs: the best book you’ve ever worn

Style

Litographs creates art and fashion from the books you’ve read and loved. OxStu Fashion spoke to Jack Neary and Danny Fein from Litographs, the Boston-based company founded in 2011 by Danny himself and his brother Corey. Their posters, t-shirts, and tote bags are all created entirely from the text of classic books. From a distance, the artwork illustrates a theme, character, or setting from each book. Move closer and the text becomes fully legible.  In a digital age that threatens the decline of reading, this initiative has revitalized the reading experience by placing it into an entirely new context. And for the die-hard bookworms who need no further encouragement, you can become a walking, talking version of your favourite texts. And look bloody good whilst you’re doing it. Litograph’s newest products are literary tattoos, which also follow their mission of celebrating the connection between reader and favorite book.

Where did the idea for Litographs come from? Why do you feel this is a particularly interesting or important project?

Litographs has always been a means for celebrating the relationship between a reader, authors and the books that brought them together. We felt like there was no better way to do so than by using the actual text of these books and we want each design to act as a conversation starter around that book and literacy more broadly.

What is your creative process? How do you create the designs and ensure that they are the most appropriate for the texts they represent? It is difficult to find a design that will represent an entire work?

We’ve been privileged to work with many talented artists in the past, artists who care just as much as we do about the books they’re illustrating. Even more exciting is the recent addition of Benjy Brooke as our Creative Director. He’s one of the most well-read people on the team and he’s an even better illustrator.

How do you choose which texts to use?

We started with classics as a way to build our collection initially and now we’re incorporating more contemporary works and forming relationships with these authors. Licensing can be a long process that prevents us from carrying everyone’s favorite book, but we’re committed to making sure all parties are on board and that authors benefit from our service.

What are your best-selling products? Which ones are your personal favourites?

I love the simplicity of designs like Walden and Leaves of Grass and I also lover our bestsellers like Gatsby and Sherlock.

How does the production work?

We work with a great local printer in Cambridge, MA, who’s allowed us the flexibility to provide so many different designs and color choices. The shirts are hand pressed using a process called dye sublimation. Posters and tote bags are also printed and sewn on site.

What is the ‘tattoo chain’ and what inspired this particular project? What kind of responses has the project provoked?

Inspired by Shelley Jackson’s SKIN Project, we decided to break the text of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland into over 5,000 unique temporary tattoos. Via Kickstarter, we found more than enough willing participants to receive one unique phrase, snap a photo, and upload it to our tattoo app, where we’re “printing” the story in full.

Are you ever concerned that you might be commodifying art?

We’re in this business because we love books and we all have favorite authors who are heroes to us. We’d never produce anything we felt wasn’t a tribute to their great works and that’s why the majority of our products are rooted in the original text.

What tips do you have for aspiring designers or entrepreneurs looking to set up their own brand?

If you’re not happy each and every day to see your team members and get back to work on what you put down just a few hours before, you’re in the wrong business. We’ve also learned a lot from our customers. They’re passionate about their favorite books and they let us know if we’re not doing them justice.

What’s next for Litographs?

We’re focused on adding more titles to the products our customers know and love. We’re especially excited about working more closely with contemporary authors and finding more ways for them to connect with fans.