This morning I needed to find an electric bill. I haven't accomplished that, but I have done a whole lot of other things. One of those things was running across some of the original artwork for some of the early covers of the Essential Herbal.
I've told this story in the magazine before, but as our 10 year anniversary approaches, indulge me.
The first issue of the magazine I partnered with 2 other women. One did lay-out. I knew less than nothing about word processing or any sort of graphics. After the first issue, it was immediately clear that this was no get-rich-quick business, and I suddenly found myself with 60 people who had paid for a year's worth of magazines, no money, working alone, and 5 more issues that needed to go out.
Each issue was paid for with whatever new subscriptions came in during the previous 2 months. It was very tight. So tight, that working at a print shop, I stayed after work and printed the magazines and bound them myself for the first year or two. After they were bound, I would weigh them and if at all possible, use a guillotine cutter to shave off an ounce to keep the postage costs down. When I could finally afford to pay for this work, it felt like pure luxury.
During those early years, the covers caused me the most anguish. Each one took an entire weekend filled with tape, scissors, paints, colored pencils, or whatever else had struck my fancy. They were a mixed media bonanza. Unfortunately, they almost always needed to be printed in black ink on a colored stock to save money.
Now I can show you how they looked originally!
On this one, I painted the door, the bricks, and the bunches of herbs hanging from the door from the welcome sign. The leaves and cornucopia are stickers. The wording was printed on the paper before I started painting.
For this holiday issue, most of the components are cut-outs from a 50 cent roll of wallpaper border I found in a sales bin. They were combined in the basket that I found somewhere else. The frame of the page with the printing around the outside is overlaid on the artwork, and the words were hand-glued into place.
Ah... this one. You can't see it here, but there is ground coffee glued to the paper under the blue bottle. The sage leaves in front of the mortar and pestle are each individual leaves cut out and glued on - as are the leaves in the pot - so that there would be some depth.
This cover was a lot of fun, and probably took longer than any other. First I started with the window, creating the panes with a razor blade. I laid a picture of a winter scene behind it. The shelves and baskets are filled with a mixture of free-hand artwork, cut-outs from old herb supplier catalogs, and clip-art. And there are some stickers there too. The paper I found to print it on (the deep gray) was left-over from another job at the print shop, and had a fabric-like weave. I still love that cover.
This one is probably my favorite, though. I was newly in love, and this was probably the most romantic cover I ever did - even if nobody else noticed. To make the cover (Sept/Oct), I went outside over my lunch break and gathered seedheads and blossoms. I attached them to a piece of black paper, laid them on the glass of a copier, and chose a selection called "reverse" which made dark things light and vice versa. It is incredibly clear and delicate. Just delicious!
Now while those days are mostly over, we still try not to reach too far, moving only as far as business allows. We can afford color covers now, but choosing to remain in print rather than on-line means that we have to spend carefully to remain within our means.
Those old days were a lot of fun. Just like when one is just starting out in life, a struggling new business flying by the seat of its pants can be pretty exciting - and scary.
Maybe I need to add a cover design contest to the growing list of anniversary celebrations!