Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Passport to Paris


My latest artistic fling is probably one of the most fun projects I have worked on. A few months ago I went on a soul searching trip to Europe. I was gone 2 weeks and hung out mostly by myself. I was so inspired by the culture, history, and art that I wanted to create something to commemorate my experience. So when I was trying to find something to create, I thought about doing a series of posters that would highlight the different cities I had seen. But I also wanted to create something I really hadn’t had much experience making. I wanted to make a book, a tour guide book. My loyal travel companions were Rick Steve’s guide to Paris and London and I felt inspired to make something that a fellow traveler could appreciate. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the travel section of Barnes and Noble but it’s an overwhelming collection of thick European guide books. I also had only been in each city of an average of 3 days. I wasn’t exactly an expert on these cities. So I took a step back. I wanted to create something that would allow for creativity and let me explore designing a book.


















I have to give you a little bit of my personal background for you to fully understand the next decision in the process. I am the oldest of 7 children and have practically raised a few of my siblings. I also spent 5 years of my life teaching swimming lessons to children. I worked as a costumed Princess at children’s birthday parties through college and I currently babysit on the weekends for some extra play money. Oh, and there was that brief stint at BabyGap. So naturally my next choice would be to create a tour guide for children. I looked online, bookstores, and on the bookshelves of the kids I babysit. There aren’t a lot of tour guide books for kids. So I decided to make a book that would allow for some education and fun. It would have to be for kids ages 6-12. 6 year olds know how to read and would be interested in having their own book. Anything over 12 is hopping into teenage territory and having teenage siblings I know that they might find a book like this juvenile and just another lame thing that have to participate in while on family vacation.

Fun Facts notes

Instead of lumping all the cities I traveled to (Dublin, Berlin, Paris, Madrid, and London) into one book, I choose to start with one city. As a starting point, I asked the kids I babysit which city would most interest them. Paris. It is the most mentioned city. I think most American kids have an understanding of what Paris is. So I started there.
I wanted to create a book that kids would take with them on their trip. I wanted it to be an entertainment piece while kids were waiting in line, sitting on a train, or walking through a boring museum. I wanted to take the historical things that I found fascinating and explain to children why they are so cool. I decide to do this through a check off system. I wanted to create challenges for kids that they could do at each site. In the book it would give a challenge and hopefully it could be educational. For example, at Notre Dame, one of the challenges is to find and stand on the bronze circle near the front of the cathedral labeled “Point Zero.”The challenge then explains that this is the place in which all distances are measured in France. It’s literally the center of France. While my audience is children, I assumed that my audience would also have an engaging adult figure. The book is meant to spark the interest and curiosity of the child and then the parent would supply more information through their own personal knowledge, adult targeted guide book, or landmark pamphlets and plaques.
Saturday brainstorming session
I also created the book to be more like a passport. Complete with French flag stickers, each time the child goes to a new destination outlined in the book, they would be able to mark the page with a sticker. This develops another level of challenge and the whole vacation becomes a game. I think American kids today are extremely competitive and have a sense of fulfillment and pride when they accomplish something. This game will make each museum or landmark another necessary piece to the puzzle they are trying to solve.


Creating a cross wrod is harder than you think
Speaking of puzzles…I’ve also included crosswords, word searches, mad libs, mazes, blank pages for coloring, and lined pages for writing. These activities will provide entertainment while waiting in line for 2 hours to take the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I talked to a 9 year old who recently toured Paris for 2 weeks. She said there was a lot of waiting. I kept this in mind when I was thinking of content. There are also Paris inspired stickers in the back of the book because, frankly, children just like stickers and they will put them on one of the blank sheets, their clothing, or any dry, flat surface.

Originally, I planned on making this book larger and fuller. I wanted to have it be more like a scrap book where you could keep all your metro tickets, museum passes, landmark brochures, and fun photos but I thought it would be extremely difficult to ask a child to care a huge book around Paris. The smaller 3.5” x 5.5” size is a good pocket size and is more on a kid level. Kids have smaller hands, smaller bags, and smaller pockets. This is book made for them.

I hope to expand the book into a kit, something that could be separated into 3 or 4 parts. The first book would be more education, reading heavy. Maybe something they would read before the trip or while they are traveling to Paris from the U.S. The second book would be the passport that I created. The third part would be the scrapbook. The forth part would be a pouch or bag that would collect the metro tickets, brochures, and museum passes while the kid is traveling. It could also be the passport holder.
I also wanted to start thinking of a way to make it digital. With Apple’s announcement of the ipad mini yesterday, I think kids are going to start having more access to digital books. I would almost expect a family to be traveling with a tablet device now days, especially on an 8 hour plane ride.
This is just the first version of my book and I hope to keep refining it and hopefully find a way to mass produce it. The kids I babysit think it’s maybe the coolest thing ever so I’ll continue to be their Friday night babysitter.

Lastly, I would like to thank all those people who provided feedback and ideas. You’re awesome.
Jason Early, Chris Gerke, Hannah Rebernick, Elain Chernov, Lindsay Lewis, Katherine Theoharpolous, Daniel Cloward, and of course Sarah and Natalie Rovner.

1 comment:

  1. Looks great! Glad to see your ideas coming to fruition!

    ReplyDelete