On Beauty / Zadie Smith | Skillshare Projects



On Beauty / Zadie Smith

Finished my sketches and trying to decide on a direction - any constructive criticism welcome! favorites?

1.) the headwrap


this concept comes from the headwrap that one of the main characters, Kiki wears every day. Put briefly, it serves as a symbol for concealing feelings (for Kiki, ones about marital issues) and covering beauty (which Kiki to some extent believes she no longer has). It is also one way Kiki expresses her identity as a black woman, which is another big theme in the novel.

I tried to make this letterform somewhere between elegant and clunky – the way Kiki sees herself most of the time.

2.) the naked body


physical female beauty is a central theme in On Beauty, both of the body and the face. This was an attempt to represent that theme, and keeping the letterform faceless makes it anonymous. I also strove for something organic, dynamic, and somewhat typically feminine in its curves.

3.) the naked body take II


playing again on themes of physical beauty and the body, this concept also tries to nod at the question of “authentic blackness/Africanness” that pops up in the novel with its woodcut-inspired pattern around the edges.

4.) academia and poetry


my final sketch is meant to reference the world of academia that half of the Belsey family lives in – the father is a professor (of art history, thus the frame), and two of the children university students. The poem in the background is from the story and entitled “On Beauty” like the book itself. I thought the matted version (right) emphasized the idea of human life on display, something the novel also touches on.


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