Balbusso Twins
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Image Type: multiple

Usage: Cover and frontispiece of the book Twelfth Night, or What You Will, a comedy by William Shakespeare.

Process: Our sources of inspiration are art in general. Traditional methods and tools were combined with digital programs, however our visible brush strokes are handmade, not digital. As the first step we paint each element of the image separately (background, characters, objects) with black gouache, pen and pencil on paper. When we have digitized all parts, we have applied the colour using Photoshop. In our style it is very important the pictorial texture, the brush strokes to transmit the right atmosphere.

Materials: Mixed media: gouache, pencil, pen, digital

Formats: The illustration for the front binding panel: 62mm wide x 346mm high. Frontispeice: 230 x 340mm.

Brief Requirements: The art director required us two pieces of the William Shakespeare play Twelfth Night, for the frontispiece, to be tipped on  to face the title page, and for the binding (cover) illustration. It's a rather lavish size, at 230 x 340mm for the page size, with text printed on gorgeous mould made paper. The book is in full cloth with a printed paper label on the front which is stuck onto the book in a slightly recessed panel, over silver blocked rules either side. The play centres on the twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck. Viola (who is disguised as a boy) falls in love with Duke Orsino, who in turn is in love with the Countess Olivia. Upon meeting Viola, Countess Olivia falls in love with her thinking she is a man. 

Key Brief Ideas: Binding: we have represented Viola and Sebastian twins. We have created a vertical composition imagining a crack between two theater curtains which coincides with the width of the front binding panel. Viola holds a mirror as a mask that covers the lower half of her face. We created a visual effect, in the mirror facing the viewer is reflected a portion of a bearded man face: Sebastian (Viola's twin brother) and at the same time allusion to the identity exchange. Viola disguises herself as a man and she becomes Sebastian|   Frontispiece: the subject focuses on the Countess Olivia veiled in mourning, but the image captures the overall atmosphere of the Shakespeare's play. Our free interpretation. Behind Olivia there is the sea (in reference to Illyria in the Adriatic Sea). In reference to the relationship between Olivia and Viola-Sebastian, we imagined a large mirror in which are reflected Olivia face with other characters in the comedy. The Olivia's dark dress is richly embroidered, inside her big skirt we represented the opening scene: the ship in the storm and the shipwreck of Viola and Sebastian. The veil partially covering the Olivia face to create a little mystery and intrigue.

Commissioner Company: The Folio Society London, UK

Agent: Shannon Associates LLC New York

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