The creative team at OsanNimu and publishing team at Books of Africa developed a collaborative author/project team relationship with Bode Ogunlana. The project has been about project resource development and project value chain brokerage as it is about creative design and design management. At various times project collaborators have either come together in London or telecommuted between London, Ogere (Ogun State, Nigeria) and Lagos. Being open to change, being outside of each other’s comfort zones and appreciating and respecting the input of the other project member is a critical work ethos.
Working on two books with place, context and time culture dependent imaginative creativity was primarily about interpretation. Listening to feedback, using prototypes, illustrations, sketches and various editorial cycles meant we had to go beyond interpretation. It is about making sure we knew what is happening at all times – and thinking ahead with project team to what is next, beyond the books as a story telling medium.
We needed to know, how it feels to be the author, the sources of inspiration for their stories and about the cultural and historical context behind each story. They had spent months on the manuscripts. We needed to take our time with Books of Africa to read the author’s work before our creative team began immersing in the themes of each story that will translate beautifully onto the cover and interior layout. Reading the stories, how the relate to one another, coherence in terms of signposting and ability to set it up for alternative media platforms became a vital part of our design thinking. We spent a great deal of lot of the time researching themes, viewing scenes, fabric, food, festivals and cultural norms in context. We sketched out themes to concept to visually flesh out aspects of stories the author had not imagined as illustrative expressions.
The process of working with Olabode continues to be a give-and-take process. As a collaborative team we are working with the author’s fluid mind. Sometimes, what we initially considered to be a not so good idea put forward by colleagues during the creative process do turn out much better than we expected when developed: Olabode Ogunlana takes the type of risks that stimulates imaginative creativity.
It has been as much a learning experience for everyone involved as it is one where the author is letting us help them to be a professionally published author.