Layers: Alex Gutzwiller

In Graphic Design: The New Basics by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips, the artistic element of layers is defined as “simultaneous, overlapping components of an image or sequence”. Through layering designers can use images as a collection of “assets” that shows variations within the piece. The use of layers is found throughout Lynda Barry’s book, What It Is? On page 48, Barry uses the cut-and-paste techniques and the


What It Is? by Lynda Barry, Page 48

overlapping collages of different papers, images and texts to create a collection of designs to illustrate the idea of following a wondering mind. Barry used a torn photograph of a town to anchor this page to the idea. One can see that the left side of the photo was torn leaving jagged edges, but was put back into place that reveals the cut-and paste technique. However, the bottom of the photo is partially covered also by a jagged-edge designed blue paper filled with scrolled designs, which is not part of the original photograph indicating it was layered on top of the photo. Additionally, Barry continues to layer at the bottom of the photo with collages of text and a cutout upside-down dog with a flower on top of the dog. These juxtaposed layered images create depth that moves from a low of the photograph to a high of the flower on lower left.  Additionally, Barry cut, cropped and pasted parts of text that gave fragments of sentence like “The story is”, showed that Barry spliced the pieces of paper and layered over other images throughout this page.


From the coming of age graphic novel, Bad Houses two teenagers meet at an estate sale. On page 52, Anne is seen sleeping on a chair amongst the “treasured” belongings that like Barry’s techniques are seen as collages layered over other items in the room. Unlike Barry, the collage images are not layer from the cut and paste method but rather are purposely drawn in a layered manner. However, the drawn collage images seem misprinted because these items are normally very small. A book of matches, a newspaper clipping


Bad Houses by Sara Ryan, Dark Horse Book, 2013. Page 52

and a small jar are oversized in comparison to the room emphasizing the importance of these “treasured” memory things because they are brought to the forefront of the page. However, drawn in this way also creates the oscillation between depths of larger oversized images in front and normal sized images behind that gives the design it’s varying layers. Additionally, the room and it’s belongings also shows layers as the image moving from front to back starting with close-up stairs on the right, then chair followed by boxes and finally the curtains of the window. As a result, the viewer’s eye moves through the room, as if one is standing in a 3-dimensional room covering the distances and stepping over the layers of belongings to get to the other side. This is different from Barry’s layering affects, which are 2-dimensional Bad Houses by Sara Ryan, Dark Horse Book, 2013. Page 52

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