When C-suite executive Jozef Opdeweegh was completing his recently published book Fair Value - reflections on good business, he was concerned that images might detract from the message. The result was a journey of discovery for both writer and illustrator.
MIAMI, FL / ACCESSWIRE / November 19, 2021 / They say a picture paints a thousand words, and yet so often in professional and business books, illustration can border on the cheesy, detracting from the subtleties of the message by oversimplifying and reducing concepts to clichés. Executive and author Jozef Opdeweegh faced this dilemma when publishing his new book, Fair Value - reflections on good business. But by collaborating with renowned illustrator JB Hopkins he found a way through that mirrors the thoughtful and philosophic nature of his writing. What's more, they discovered that writers and illustrators can share a great deal in common.
‘I was nervous about commissioning illustrations for Fair Value,' explains Opdeweegh. ‘Much of the book is reflective and open-ended; it's about prompting thoughts rather than providing solutions. Capturing the process of thinking is something very different to simply depicting the outcome, and it was important that I found an artist who engaged with that idea.'
Thankfully, JB Hopkins had similar thoughts. ‘It was obvious to me that Fair Value was a different kind of business book. In many ways the chapters are like pictures in an exhibition; they are saying, ‘Come and see what I've found… here's my take on the world.' That invitation to respond and the humility in its hesitation to be directive is what made Fair Value stand out. It also meant that drawing the illustrations would turn out to be discovery in itself.'
Hopkins took his inspiration from Opdeweegh's claim that values are as much a journey as a destination. ‘I often think of values as a compass, guiding our direction and keeping us on track,' says Opdeweegh. ‘ There's a magnetic force to their necessity, but like gravity, it can be resisted and progress is never straightforward or entirely predictable.'
In response, Hopkins experimented with the image of an arrowhead as a visual metaphor for Fair Value's reflections on good business. ‘We see arrows in nature as well as on clocks, compasses and diagrams…. it's a symbol of direction but not a destination, and that seemed to chime with what Jozef was saying about the role of values in the workplace and our lives.'
‘When I saw the first sketches, I knew we were on the same wavelength,' says Opdeweegh. ‘John explained that he'd draw the sketches freehand, using a bamboo pen to reflect the transient, and at times stuttering, nature of our thoughts. His image of geese flying in formation reminded me of where I'd lived as a boy - its simplicity was as beautiful as it was inspiring.'
What followed was a call and response between writer and illustrator, with Opdeweegh scribbling his comments on the drawings and Hopkins working up new variations. And it was this interchange of ideas that was the ‘lightbulb moment' says Hopkins. ‘We quickly realized that his words and my pictures were not separate at all, and that by showing our ‘workings out' we captured the process in full.'
The result is a series of deceptively simple collaborations, which perfectly illustrate the ethos of Fair Value. They are probing, reflective and a prompt to further thought: subtle and open-ended rather than closed or clichéd. From geese in flight, to compass points, bridges and even a quiver of arrows, they hint at the need for gathering, shaping and constructing our thoughts-ultimately, for finding our own way forward.
‘Working with John was an education and a delight,' says Jozef, ‘not least because I'd never have come up with his ideas. The originals on my office wall are a gift I shall treasure, reminding me that we are better and stronger when we share our talents-and that alone is a perfect illustration of what Fair Value is trying to say.'
SOURCE: Jozef Opdeweegh
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