The Art of Travel

The lat­est lo­cale t o be added t o Louis Vuit t on's Travel Bo ok col­lec­tion is none other than Hawai‘ i.


Louis Vuit­ton's new book pays homage to Hawai‘i

AS PART OF THEIR CON­TEM­PO­RARY TRAVEL BOOK SE­RIES, LUX­URY BRAND LOUIS VUIT­TON RE­CENTLY RE­LEASED THREE NEW ti­tles in­clud­ing the Hawaii Travel Book il­lus­trated by Croa­t­ian comic book artist Esad Ribic.´ Th e lim­ited-edi­tion books have been il­lus­trated by renown and promis­ing young tal­ent picked by Louis Vuit­ton to tell their tales of travel via the medium of which they are known. Hawai‘ i can now be counted among other Louis Vuit­ton ex­otic lo­cales such as Viet­nam, Easter Is­land and Paris. Ribic,´ whose no­table work in­cludes il­lus­tra­tions of sci-fi su­per­heroes such as the X-Men and the Sil­ver Surfer for Mar­vel Comics, was re­cruited by Travel Book art di­rec­tor Frédéric Bor­tol­letti for the Hawai‘ i project.

At the time, Ribic´ was en­gaged in a lengthy project with Mar­vel and couldn't com­mit at first; but once his project was com­pleted, the artist trav­eled to the Hawai­ian Isles in 2015 to be­gin his ex­plo­rations.

Once here, Ribic´ was im­me­di­ately over­whelmed with Hawai‘ i's nat­u­ral beauty and fell in love with its di­verse to­pog­ra­phy and cli­mate. “You can tell it's geo­graph­i­cally new, all the nat­u­ral pro­cesses are fast there—new land cre­ation from vol­ca­noes, [ lava] hard­en­ing, ero­sion, [the cre­ation of ] coral reef around it,” he says. Th e di­verse cli­mates that cov­ered each is­land also mar­veled the il­lus­tra­tor. “… You can go from jun­gle into al­most desert in a few miles!” he adds.

Com­ing from a sci-fi back­ground where su­per he­roes dom­i­nate, Ribic´ had to re­think how to por­tray his vi­sions of Hawai‘ i for Louis Vuit­ton. As this work was some­thing he does not typ­i­cally do, it took time for Ribic´ to de­velop a con­nected nar­ra­tive for the se­ries. Na­ture be­came his cen­ter point for much of what he il­lus­trated, but cityscapes do come into play in many of his pieces. “I did want to fo­cus more on na­ture than other things, even cityscapes were done [in such a way] that you feel the in­tru­sion of green in that, that's what this place looks like any­way …”

In ad­di­tion, Ribic´ also de­cided to ap­proach his il­lus­tra­tions with a much looser style than his usual comic book re­al­ism. “I like a lot of land­scape art, and this was my chance to [ pay homage] to it, with my lit­tle twists, of course.” In one land­scape piece, he cre­ates a sur­real view of steep, Hawai­ian moun­tains loom­ing over a sleepy, wa­ter­side park. Hues of green swal­low the toy-like cars parked beach­side. In a por­trait piece, the artist de­picts a pow­er­ful man cov­ered in tribal tattoos sit­ing within a dark jun­gle who glares back at the ob­server. His surfer il­lus­tra­tions are clearly a nod at his comic back­ground as he at­tributes the wa­ter­men with su­per-hu­man strength. In one in­stance, a surfer with

Na­ture be­came his cen­ter point for much of what he il­lus­trated, but cityscapes do come into play in many of his pieces.

rip­pling back mus­cles ex­plodes out of a roar­ing wave. Th e surfer's face is warped with angst as he pre­pares to tackle the next wave na­ture throws at him.

Us­ing his reg­u­lar mix of wa­ter­color and tem­pera, Ribic´ used rougher tex­tured pa­pers and painted with a de­sired wet-on-wet tech­nique he can't em­ploy in his reg­u­lar work. “This kind of va­ri­ety is not some­thing I can usu­ally in­dulge in be­cause painted comics need to have a more uni­form look, and that dic­tates a pa­per with a smooth sur­face for de­tails, ” he elab­o­rates. Th e looser ap­proach also gave Ribic´ the abil­ity to cre­ate “dreamy look­ing” il­lus­tra­tions as “op­posed to fully fleshed out re­al­ism, that'd make it look too ‘post­cardy.'”

Ribic´ did note his fa­vorite art from the Hawaii Travel Book are his vol­cano-re­lated pieces. “Just the scope of things and the bleak­ness that sur­rounds it makes you feel you're on an­other world!” he opines. But Ribic's´ fa­vorite in­di­vid­ual piece was surfer im­age used for the tome's cover. Th e im­age shows an­other heroic surfer sail­ing off a mul­ti­col­ored wave with a city land­scape in the back­ground. Th e il­lus­tra­tion wasn't based on any pho­to­graph but an im­age con­jured from the artist's own mind. Ribic´ says, “It was just my im­pres­sion of Honolulu— straight from my head on pa­per!”

As this work was some­thing he does not typ­i­cally do, it took time for Ribić to de­velop a con­nected nar­ra­tive for the se­ries.

Ribi c´ in­tent ion­ally f ocused on Hawai‘ i's na­ture r ather t han it s cit yscapes, as seen in his paint ings of lush green mount ains and a male adorned with t r adit ional Hawai­ian t at t oos.

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