The Sting, A Book About Maintenance 

My Role

Designer and artist

This story is about two groups building and maintaining a comfortable home. One is a human family, and one is a colony of paper wasps. The family destroys the wasp nest after the daughter is stung. The wasps rebuild their home the next spring. The cycle continues. 

The goal of the project was to design and print a book that utilized typography, layout, and color. My personal goal was to think about how I could use the interaction between typography, image, and material to further support the story. 

While developing this project, I knew I wanted to have two parallel storylines that would converge and separate. The humans tell their story through language, speech, and white printer paper. On the other hand, the paper wasps are beings of action. They are building their nest with the pages of the book, a fine mulberry paper. These two materials are in conversation with each other while the two "families" struggle to coexist. 

The process for this book began with a memory. One of my younger sister being stung on the foot by a wasp. Paper wasps are the most common type of wasp in North America, and they build small grey nests in the eaves of houses, using fibers that they find in the wild. Every year, paper wasps would build a nest on the same corner of our house. Every year, my parents would let it go until me or one of my two sisters got stung. Then the nest would be flushed out and knocked down.

For the majority of the illustration process, I thought that I would bind two separate books, one with only text and one with only image, in the same case. After finishing the illustrations, I decided that the best way to preserve the readability of the text and allow the cut-out paper to physically interact with the text was to alternate pages of image and text. I felt that this resolved my problem in the most simple way, and wouldn’t ruin the integrity of either the delicate illustrations or the text.

As for the illustrations, I made them with a two-color screen print in mind. The wasps would continue streaming onto the page until a large portion of the paper was eaten away, and turned into the image of the nest. I wanted the cut-outs to be organic and lumpy, the same way they would look if bugs had eaten them away.
The story and the illustrations build separately until the moment when the nest falls. I wanted the book to feel like two separate stories until this point, where the storylines cross and it becomes clear that they are happening at the same time.