words prison | Skillshare Projects

Jack Byers

the art of communication



words prison


After visting Turkey in January, I became fascinated by the political climate in the country. In one hand, you have a country that is rapidly modernizing, while in the other is a leader who is steering the country towards autocracy while keeping a straight face. One of the most interesting aspects of this shift is the state's treatment of the news media. Several high-profile journalists have been jailed and threatened with life sentences by Turkey's president, simply for exercising free speech. 


I created a list of words relating to the state of free speech in Turkey and chose "words" and "prison"


After thinking for some time about how illustrate free speech in the context of Turkey, I decided to draw the six letters that differentiate the Turkish alphabet from the English alphabet in a way that avoided forming any legible word. This way, the viewer wouldn't be led astray by seeing an actual word.

I tossed around the ideas of how to portray the letters as being imprisoned; on a stage like king kong, through the window of a solitary confinement cell, or in individual cells. I noticed that in Roman's drawing, the abstraction of the buildings in the background was such that it helps focus the viewer's attention on the foreground, so I decided to illustrate a vague prison in the background, but focus on the letters in the foreground. 


Once I had the letters and the prison sketched out, I laid sheets over top of both and began inking. I kept the letters very tight using a fineliner, and kept the prison loose by using a brush, my finger, and a steel tipped pen. I also added in some random pen markings to use once I began to digitize, including some scribbles inspired by the word "censorship" from my notes. 




I scanned these in and manipulated things around. I chose a moody and somber color scheme for the background and contrasted it with the stark, bright red and white from the Turkish flag for the letters. After lots of failures, I arrived at this: 


Thanks for the good teaching and inspiration!


Please sign in or sign up to comment.