• Art & Design
  • Manuja Waldia
  • Creative Director
  • Paul Buckley
  • Special Thanks
  • Brianna Harden
  • Editor
  • Elda Rotor
  • Paul Buckley:
    Serendipity has always played a large role in my decision making on the artists that I hire. Since I am always working on so many things at any given time, I walk through life with a constant inner dialog and eyes scanning all art all the time; and my brain is taking all this in and wondering if that, or they, might be a good idea for any number of projects. It has gotten to the point that even going to a museum or looking through a book of photography, I cannot just look and enjoy it for the art’s sake... I always see it through the “but can i use it” filter.

    PB: Manuja Waldia was just one of many cold call emails I get every day. I’d never heard of her, but she sent me this very kind email and a few samples and asked me to look at her work, which I did. I had been trying to solve how to package the Shakespeare backlist which is 42 books; an absolutely huge commission with no room for error. Giants such as Milton Glaser and David Gentleman have done these titles in the past and as usual, I wanted to do something different but I was having a hard time figuring out just what that might look like. Manuja’s website was broken into two sections, traditional painting and this very digital vector line work. Upon seeing that linear work, I had my answer... no one has done Shakespeare like this; it’s always a watercolor or some historical art. So I emailed her back and asked this 22 year old who had not yet even graduated, if she’d be up for doing 42 covers for me. I do hope she fell off her chair. So much talent in someone so young, and such a joy to work with—go Manuja!

    Manuja Waldia:
    Shakespeare’s work is quite old, while my illustration style is very modern. However, most of the broader themes that appear in the work are timeless, and it’s genius of Paul to think of using this minimalistic approach to the cover art for these classics. Previous versions of cover art for other Shakespeare series were done by Milton Glaser and David Gentleman, which is intimidating, as those are some very large shoes to fill. I especially love Gentleman’s because his covers are all woodcuts that took him more than a decade to finish. Even though my process is a lot quicker, his patient dedication inspires me to put my best foot forward for each title.

    Being so iconic, every title has many existing artworks, and keeping these covers fresh is a challenge. While I don’t want to reinvent the wheel just for the sake of it, I try to think of interesting concepts and execute the artwork in a unique manner. I strip away all frivolous plot details and try to condense the most interesting aspects into artwork made out of very basic shapes. Some titles have a lot of visual symbolism in the plot, while others have very abstract concepts, which are harder to translate into artwork. Reading Shakespeare is always delightful; however, stumbling upon controversial aspects in some of the titles, like racist slurs and blatant misogyny, is never fun. You know it’s bad when you’re in favor of the shrew!

    The Taming of the Shrew sketch, Manuja Waldia