"We found that online forums provide some fascinating material. We realized that the content for the issue was already written by the people confessing their obsessions online." says John Belisle, Creative Director at Signals. "The darker the subject, the more people seem to want to share. From there it was a small leap to visualize today's chat rooms as the 21st century version of the circus freak show."
From the initial concept, the Signals team came up with more than 30 obsessions on a variety of different subjects. "Some of the online confessions, like the bearded lady, came from people reaching out to the online community and sharing their stories. Others were just really odd." Subtle edits were made to protect the privacy of the people posting their obsessions and keep all confessions anonymous.
Illustration: Adam Rogers
Photography: Adam Blasberg
"The selection of which stories would be included in the final publication was based on the uniqueness of the story, the length of the explanation and which confessions the artists felt would be best suited for the issue," John explains.
When it came to visualizing the confessions, Signals opted for a collaborative approach. "Early on we made the decision to work on some of the stories ourselves, but also use the opportunity to work with illustrators and photographers we've always admired. We sent out emails with a description of the project, along with the selected stories, to illustrators and photographers and let them choose their story and select a single- or double-page spread."
Photography: Peter Holst
John notes that the quirky subject matter proved to be a big draw for many of the collaborators, plus the creative freedom to illustrate the ideas in any way they liked. "The challenge was keeping the format simple enough to unify all the different styles." A basic colour palette, consistent type layout and a clear focus on the circus theme throughout the different spreads maintains continuity in the issue and helps hold everything together.
Illustration: John Spriggs
"We were really happy with how many artists across North America jumped at the opportunity to work with Signals and the effort they put into their submissions. None were paid, but they all saw the value in associating themselves with the project."
About Wayward Arts
Wayward Arts is a monthly publication printed by Flash Reproductions, with paper provided by Unisource Canada in conjunction with their mill suppliers. A different design firm is invited to curate each issue, changing the design, layout, colours, mood and paper to reflect their interpretation of the year’s over-arching theme.