János Arany: The Bards of Wales

Hollóka Grafikai Műhely / Graphic Design Studio

Budapest, Magyarország

We encounter Arany János: A walesi bárdok ballad at school around the age of 12, we all learn it by heart and mumble a line for the rest of our lives, but as adults we rarely re-read the whole poem to rediscover that the poem’s light musicality hides painful and difficult themes.

When designing my illustrations I purpously did not focus on the school target group but for this lost audience of young adults and adults interested in Hungarian literature. I wanted to create a series of illustrations that encapsulated and highlighted the emotional depths of the poem. I chose paper cut like digital collage as my technique for which I created the elements using manual techniques. Most of the backgrounds and additional illustrations were done in ink, while the foreground elements were done in gouache.

In designing the visuals and choosing the technique the two primary considerations were that the illustrations should follow the arc of the poem, pulsing and changing with the narrative and visually reflect the tension of the subject. The brownish-reddish tones that appear as the tension builds, the textural differences between ink and gouache, the clash of blurred and hard edges, the contrast of warm yellow and cool bluish black all serve these purposes.