Paper Towns - John Green | Skillshare Projects



Paper Towns - John Green

Hello! My name is Jess and I'm a graphic designer/letterer from Australia. I am a huge fan of Jessica Hische, and I wanted to take this class so I could learn all I could from her mad skills :)


I chose John Green's 'Paper Towns', which is a young adult novel about two teens from Florida, Quentin "Q" Jacobsen (the protagonist) and Margo Roth Spiegelman. In a nutshell; Q has a mad crush on Margo, and right before graduation Margo disappears, leaving clues for Q to find her. That's a fairly brief description, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it.

The thing I loved most about this book - and all of Green's work - is that you start off reading, thinking it's a fairly simple novel about teenage life/romance/issues, and then BAM, there's this subtle plot twist which changes the game and all of a sudden you're reading a deep book that leaves you thinking about who we are as people, who we want to be, and how we see people.

I felt like this book was filled with metaphors and symbollism; one great example being the fantastic line (after young Margo and Q discover a man in a park who has committed suicide):

“Maybe all the strings inside him broke.”


I kept returning to the concepts such as maps, journey, paths and strings. I felt like the imagery I envisioned whilst brainstorming could really convey the tone and mood of the book in such a striking way.


During my thumbnail sketching stage I really liked the idea of the blue graffiti (early on in the book Margo graffiti's a blue M on certain houses), but I wanted something a bit more thoughtful than that. I didn't mind the thicker serif G which indicated movement (towards the end of the book Q and his friends embark on an epic and urgent 24-hour road trip to find Margo), but again I thought I could do better. Originally I wanted to do something with paper or origami to really play on the title, but I couldn't come up with anything I liked.

I liked the fairly simple sans-serif G with the road on it, but I wanted to push it further. I really like the ornate script G's, so I tried to incorporate that into my sketch, and ended up really liking the result. I may take the graffiti letter into Illustrator as well, but the sketch below will be my final sketch before I vectorise it. I incorporated the string concept into the script g, and I love how it's frayed at the end (a nice nod towards Margo). I like the idea of the two letters overlapping, which could be a metaphor for their paths overlapping in life. It's also as if the script G is a representation of Margo who is very different and unconventional, and leading Q to her, and the very structured, sans-serif G representing Q and how he's trying to find her. I've drawn the minivan on the road (important part of the story), but it will definitely be better once I get it into Illustrator.

I'm pretty pleased with the direction this project is taking, so I decided to take it into Illustrator, and here is my "finished" book cover! (I say "finished" but we all know as designer's a piece is never *really* finished!)

Thanks for reading through my project! If you want to leave some constructive or positive feedback or a comment, I'd really, really appreciate it! Or if you'd like to see some more of my work, feel free to check out my tumblr: or my website: Thanks! :)


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