A Life In Contrasts

a visually engaging biographical book

When you’ve lived a long life, you’re bound to have a lot of memories. If you also happen to have had an interesting life that has taken you across the world, that makes for a really good story. That’s exactly what “A life in contrasts” is, a biographical book about two very different parts of the world, two different ways of living, about seeing other different cultures through the same lenses.

The first volume deals with life under communist persecution in Romania, because of which the author had to flee. As such, its entire design is meant to evoke a dark and oppressing atmosphere to reflect the trials and tribulations he had to endure. This is further stressed by the cover layout which depicts barbed wire and prison camp watchtowers.

It is written in three languages, Romanian, German and English and has many-many photographs, so to accommodate all this, there is no set or repetitive layout since it varies from page to page. Because of it, there had to be a way to guide the reader’s eyes as to avoid confusion, so a color-coding scheme was employed. The effect is quite stunning, since the overall aspect is like that of an almanac or a glossy magazine, even when you’re looking at a digital copy.

For a lot of Romanians that managed to get out of the country in that time, there was a certain feeling of freedom and liberty. While the West was often depicted as greedy and evil by communist propaganda, those that had travelled abroad had a different take and the stories they told often took a slightly exaggerated dream-like quality. This aspect was important to the author, so the second volume’s style is much lighter compared to the first one.

While still having a lot of photos, there are also illustrations throughout. The approach for these was to give them that same dreamy quality, so they all look almost like paintings because of the brushstroke texture they all have. The layout was changed to give the same impression. Because this volume is only bilingual, there was no further need for color-coding, so the entire book is actually a lighter color through and through.

Since the title of this book is ““A life in contrasts”, we made sure it measures up to its own name and actually managed to make two contrasting volumes.