Ruby Spark

El Lector-A short story

Bachelor of Design Illustration Editorial Publication Typography Print Narrative Collaborative Storytelling Design history

This publication holds a self-authored short story, set in 1930’s pre-revolutionary Cuba. Presented in both the English and Spanish languages, my mother tongue and the mother tongue of the characters in my story. The bilingual form and narrative in this publication are driven by a desire to connect with the characters, to their wider socio-political designed world and to culture and language outside of my own.

I have always been interested in the intersection between design and creative writing, how these two things that I feel a deep passion for are intertwined. Like text and image, design and writing sit side by side in so many of our daily interactions, bolstering each other up or dissolving into a seamless emotive narrative. I study creative writing this year, the endpoint of my minor, the endpoint of my major and degree as a whole, all coinciding. In this project, I wanted to pull all of the threads of my university experience together, and create something to hold, that I hold very dear. This final project is shaped by my semester in Mexico, the harshness of the contrast between my life here and life there, the beauty in their language, culture and length of history. Shaped by my desire to tell a story, to create a world outside of what I know, and by my want to understand the socio-cultural context of the written word and the design that surrounds it.

This project understands translation as a tool in both literature and design. It looks at the book as a historical and cultural marker in time. A research-led case study, on self-publishing, the book as a cultural device, book cover design and design outside of a western context. This project allowed me to dive deeper into the publishing world of New Zealand and the printed world of my characters in 1930s Cuba. Translation added depth to my understanding of language and storytelling. The weight the words carry in one language and how they feel a little differently in another. Because of this the stories, although similar, are not the same. They use different words, written differently, but the feel of the narrative is still intact.

The written element of this publication came from a collection of short stories I created for my Creative Writing class in semester one. Although I am continuing to write the collection, due to time constraints only the first section is this publication. I would like to create a book that contains all three stories in the future and spans across a larger time frame in Cuba’s social, political and design history. This is a story, based on a story I heard while in Mexico. A story of a man who read to those who couldn’t read themselves. Who educated a class of people who education overlooked. But who were so adamant to learn, to be entertained, to step outside of their reality. This is a story about people. The power in community, in overcoming adversity and demanding equality. A story of the power of knowledge and the desires of those willing to seek it, too withhold it. A story of uprising, overthrowing, revolting. A story of a country and a time very far away from us, now, but that is relevant nun the less, now and always.

This publication aims to communicate the cultural differences between my world as the author and the world of my characters. These differences are communicated through the story I wrote, but also, through the curated selection of poems, excerpts and artwork from Latin America.