This is Shopped.
In fact, 90% of my freelance graphic design work involves photomanipulation. I love it. I love taking a handful (or sometimes, two dozen) pieces, and knitting them together to create a new image. I don’t always get everything right. I am terrible about lighting and perspective. But I try and be as thorough (read: anal retentive) as I can. Which means that there are reflections in the windows, and shadows where there ought to be shadows. I added a distortion on the interior, so it looks as if you’re viewing the inside of the shop through imperfect glass.
Each piece of this illustration is part of a story. The shop itself is from Will Shetterly and Emma Bull’s Bordertown Series stories, and Shetterly’s books Elsewhere and NeverNever. But I didn’t rely on author descriptions so much as my own instincts, and my ideas of what a bookshop would look like in B-town.
For example, the reflection in the glass is London. The signs and flyers on the windows come from some of my favourite second-hand bookshops in real life. I was heavily influenced by a local Chicago shop, Bookman’s Corner, which to me always looked like a piece of B-town in Chicago.
There is a cat because my absolute favourite shop, Rick’s Shake, Rattle & Read in Uptown, had a bookstore cat named Duchess.
There are untidy stacks of random books in the display windows because of a shop I always used to pass on Belmont that had a faded (and much-coveted on my part) ALA poster of Disney’s Gargoyles Goliath, encouraging kids to read.
There is a chalk sign because I imagine that Wolfboy (I cannot call him ‘Lobo’ because that name is ridiculously adorably stupid in that way teenaged boys try to be cooler than they really are, and it always felt like Pottsie wanting to call himself the Fonz, to me) does a brisk trade divesting n00bs of their Gaiman and Pratchett, DC and Marvel, cheap airport-bought thrillers and battered romance novels in exchange for four-leafed clovers and tickets to new bands at Danceland or the Ferret.
Cameras don’t work in B-town. Or, at least, they don’t work the way you’d hope or expect them to. So this is not a snapshot of a fictional bookshop. Except that it is. And I had a wonderful time putting it together.
It will go up on Bordertownseries.com as desktop wallpaper this evening, and prints will be available via DA and Cafepress. But nothing can beat that moment when I emailed a draft to Ellen Kushner, and she nearly wept with joy. That is what I strive for. That is what I desire.
And that is what I wanted to share, so you guys understand a bit about both my job, and how my brain works, and how stories feed my soul.
Gosh, this is perfect. The cat! the creaky wooden doors with the knob that requires some special maneuver to behave nicely! the fliers! the narrow stacks with many well-worn paperback spines! the cement step thing that leads you onto the floorboards!