Now that does not sound a barrel of laughs but his humanity and utter fascination in his patients is nothing like as dry as it may initially seem. At Picador books I had previously designed the cover for Awakenings which I cannot find but will add later (software permitting). That was made into a film with Robert de Niro and Robin Williams and tells the true story of a number of patients suffering persistent coma who Sacks diagnosed as survivors of a global pandemic that lasted from 1913-26. He administered a new drug called L-Dopa (you couldn’t make it up). They all awakened to a short-lived but euphoric state.
Object blindness? Another visual challenge in the daily life of an art director.
Belgian painter René Magritte came to mind. In particular “The Betrayal of Images” which depicts a lone smoker’s pipe with the legend, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” beneath it (“This is not a pipe“). The point being that it is not a pipe but a painting of a pipe. What I wanted was the hat/wife link. I have done a lot of work with illustrators and I love to reach past their ‘style’ to engage their creative thinking on books they will respond or react strongly too. But on this occasion I had something specific that needed to be executed with skill and élan. I called Paul Slater. Master craftsman, good egg. And what a good job he did. Now I dislike plagiarism, and so I made damn sure we clearly credited our homage to Magritte as such on the back cover.
The book was published and was well received. It deserved it. Our efforts to communicate complex issues of neurology with apt graphic imagery worked. I mentioned how great a job Paul Slater did? I got a letter from the solicitors representing the Magritte estate who, in their zeal, thought we had used a real painting from the collection without permission. All was cool once we pointed out the fulsome credit acknowledging the great man, in fact they were pleased (In fact Paul has reminded me I wrote “Ceci n’est pas une Magritte“). Paul Slater you were just too good! Dear readers, please see the full range of Paul’s fabulous work unfettered by concept-obsessed art directors. www.cuttergallery.com