Working together, a writer, two designers and a photographer have created a book that captures the spirit and culture of New Orleans, one letter at a time. Through photography and typography, “Love Letters from New Orleans“ takes the reader on a unique alphabetical journey through The Big Easy. The project was spearheaded by designer Nessim Higson of I Am Always Hungry, whose goal was to cast the city in “both a positive and provocative light.” Since posting the finished layout to Kickstarter, over $18,000 has been pledged to fund the project. This money will be used to print hard copies of the book—any funding over their goal will allow for an even higher production value. The photographer behind the project is New Orleans-based photojournalist, Daymon Gardner, who I recently got in touch with to discuss this celebratory take on New Orleans…
Who’s behind the creation of “Love Letters from New Orleans?”
Having been born or raised or lived for a time in the city of New Orleans, the three co-creators of this book, Ness Higson (Designer), Anthony Vachris (writer) and myself believe very strongly that New Orleans is an extremely unique city with a culture that is truly its own, needing to be shared with the world. Together, we decided to create a book that distills the culture of New Orleans in 26 concepts, one for each letter of the alphabet.
Why create this book?
We created the book in an effort to celebrate the people, history, and culture of New Orleans, a city we all love and believe to be one of the most unique in the world. We reached out to several publishers and were consistently told the subject matter was too regional. We are confident, however, that the culture of New Orleans is a universally appealing topic that many people can, should, and will enjoy. That is why we have decided to self publish, raising the necessary funds through Kickstarter.
What was involved in the making of the book?
There was an incredible amount of collaboration, persistence, time, energy, and patience involved with the creation of the book. The process in creating each spread was similar to that of an advertising assignment. We would work together in creating a concept for each letter. Once a concept was agreed upon, Ness would provide a general sketch for layout and typographic solutions. I would then execute the photography accordingly, usually with the assistance of one or two other team members. The production value was similar to that of a commissioned assignment as well and required some of the same expenses. So, essentially, every spread was its own photo shoot.
Where there any challenges?
Since the book was a personal project, it always took a back seat to commissioned work, which is one of the reasons it took three plus years to finish. Keeping all involved motivated and schedules lined up became increasingly more difficult as the project wore on. We had also decided early on not to use specific brand names or businesses which created an obstacle for some of the more difficult letters. Everyone had differing opinions for most of the spreads, requiring compromise from all parties. There are multiple solutions for various letters and inevitably some subject matter was left uncovered.
Who is the book for?
The book was created for both New Orleans locals and tourists alike. That’s partially the reason the book took three years to finish. We re-evaluated many spreads and tabled four to five finished concepts in favor of topics that felt more universally appealing. We created the book to be timeless, poignant and current—all at the same time.
What makes the book special?
The subject matter and attention to detail make the book unique. It was truly a collaborative, labor of love for all involved.
What has the response been like?
The reaction has been positive. We’ve seen the project light up on social media outlets since we launched it on Kickstarter and have received several emails from individuals across the country who just simply want to congratulate us for capturing the unique culture of New Orleans in a positive light. We reached our funding goal just 12 days after launching, and are now accepting additional donations as pre-orders for the book.