We’ve really been enjoying The Folio Society’s special editions, and the incredible artwork that they’ve been including in each one. Their latest edition is Stephen King’s The Shining with illustrations from Edward Kinsella.
Sheri Gee, the Folio Society’s art director, noted that she had come across Kinsella’s artwork as a judge an artist contest: “I remember seeing his amazing Huckleberry Finn illustration for Penguin Classics—a combination of flat colour and expertly drawn characterisation—which won Gold alongside Jonathan Burton’s work for the Folio Society edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four.”
When it came time to put together the art for the publisher’s edition, she took a closer look at his portfolio: “he has narrative illustration running through his veins, with strengths in portraiture, tension and otherworldliness. In essence he was perfect for The Shining.”
We spoke with Kinsella about his work on the book.
Gizmodo: When did you first read The Shining? What did you take away from it when you read it?
Edward Kinsella: This was actually the first time I had read the book, so it was all fresh and exciting. The Shining is so firmly embedded in pop culture, that it would be nearly impossible to not have some knowledge of the material, but I didn’t know too much about it, so the visuals I got while reading were pretty unbiased.
I have to say, the weight of this project was pretty heavy. People love The Shining. They love the book. They love the movie... They expect certain things. Some ever-present thoughts, like... ‘Will fans of The Shining like it?’ I figured that if I gave it everything I had, that I’d be able to do it justice. It’s up to the fans and Mr. King to decide, but hopefully my take on the visuals is enjoyed.
There’s a reason this book is so famous...its just so damn good. It’s haunting, and the visuals stick with you. A few times I even yelled out loud as I read. After finishing the book, I remember thinking, ‘This is the perfect book for me to illustrate’.
What guided you through the process for creating these?
I took extensive notes while reading, then condensed those notes, and then condensed them even further into what I thought would be the best images to depict, keeping in mind equal spacing throughout the book. Then came a literal mountain of sketches and pages and pages and pages of chicken scratch and more notes. I eventually nailed down the final sketches and presented those to The Folio Society. It was a challenge to get to that point, but after that it was just execution of the final art, which is time consuming, but not as difficult as the initial work. My Art Director for the project, Sheri Gee, was very instrumental in guiding me through the process.
I approached this project the same way I approach all others. I make sure I’m answering two questions to the best of my ability...What is the best imagery for the job? And what would be interesting for me to draw? If those two line up well, then everybody’s happy.
The Shining is a popular film - how did you steer clear of being influenced from that particular vision?
Luckily, I hadn’t seen the movie when I was given the project and Sheri Gee, the Art Director, was pleased about that. They wanted the illustrations to be fresh, and a definite departure from the film. As tempting as it was, I steered clear of referencing the movie for assistance in visualizing the images. I think that made for better imagery in the end.
Here’s a selection of the artwork from this edition:
The Shining is now available from The Folio Society.