Courtesy of Nate Ross

Graphic communication senior Nate Ross recreated “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury through his limited edition book project in Book Design Technology (GRC 439).

The course is taught by graphic communication professor Lorraine Donegan. She assigned this project every quarter for the 19 years she has taught at Cal Poly.

“It’s a creative project that allows them to learn a lot of really fine technical skills as well as craftsmanship,” Donegan said. “The objective of the project is for them to take a book they’ve read and loved and are passionate about, giving it a fresh new face.”

In the forward of the novel, Bradbury explained he could not think of a title and wanted to know what the heat of combustion was for paper. So, he called the fire department which gave him the answer of Fahrenheit 451.

Ross followed in Bradbury’s footsteps for his project, contacting the San Luis Obispo Fire Department (SLOFD) to help him make his rendition of “Fahrenheit 451.” SLOFD let Ross use an old pair of fireproof pants to make a cover and case for the book.

Other style choices included natural-looking maroon paper for the beginning and end of the book, burnt pages at the end of the book and water-painted, original illustrations for each chapter.

“There’s all these different aspects to it that make the design communicate the feel that you’re trying to express,” Ross said. “It’s a process of learning how to do that effectively.”

Students make all the design choices for their project. They must find the text online and put the entire book together as well.

Book Design Technology teaches students not only the aspects of designing a book, but also how to bind a book. After printing the text using the graphic communications department’s digital press, students must fold and sew every page of their book themselves.

“Print is not dead and despite what everyone says, books have become even more special as we go through the digital age,” Donegan said. “The class is just one of my favorite classes because students are reintroduced to this beautiful thing called the book and I don’t think they’ll look at books ever the same after this class.”

After the projects are complete, the entire class submits them to the Professional Publishers Network Scholarship competition in June. A panel of judges are chosen by esteemed publishers to give away thousands of dollars in scholarship money in order to foster up-and-coming book designers.

“Part of me wanted to keep [the book] because it’s my little baby, but I was thinking it would be cool if someone else had it as part of a collection” Ross said. “I’m definitely really proud of what I came up with; I feel like I had an idea outside of the box and tried to make it happen and it worked.”

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