Derek Otte - TOFLOF

Spoken word artiest/woordkunstenaar/stadsdichter van Rotterdam: Derek Otte schreef zijn 2e boek en Jerry Ronda en Ik mochten het ontwerp verzorgen.

TOFLOF stands for Tough Love prenounced in Dutch with a heavy Rotterdam dialect. All the poems are about love. Not picture perfect love, but real love, his personal experiences with love. Tough, beautifull, sad, funny love with friends, family, lovers and society.

Style wise Derek realy liked the paintings of Edward Hopper. Especially his melancholic work, how he captures the lonelyness of a person in a big city. ‘That’s TOFLOF!’ he said.

Because this book is basicly Derek’s heart on the table we came up with the idea of an entire red book on the outside. Not only the cover, but also the sides of the paper. So when people see it, it’s just this strange red block laying there. The name, the title, all the information on the cover had to be red as well, but we didn’t want ink on the cover. We wanted the information to be carved in there just like all his TOFLOF experiences are carved in his heart. 

Every book cover needs a cool design, something more then just a name and a title. Researching poem books I noticed that almost every cover use to be decorated with flowers. Beautifull cheesy flowers:) but this is TOFLOF, the real story about love. And that ain’t always pretty. How cool would it be to have a book’s cover decorated with dead flowers! We thought it would be very cool, so we did. Thankfully Derek loved it as well:)

The concept for the inside was to keep it minimalistic with a raw edge.  We wanted every spread in the book to have 3 colors: off white, red and black. No matter what would be on the spread, all those 3, and only those 3 colors needed to exist on the spread. 

The typography was very important for this book. It needed to have a certain vibe but be very readable as well. We took inspiration from old photographs of typography in the city of Rotterdam and matched that style for the headers. A typical vintage, lean and high, sans serif letterstyle. For the poem text we choose an opposite style, a serif. Opposites attract and a serif reads comfortable. To keep the book interesting we created a grid that allowed us to place the poems on different locations on the page. This way not one text spread looks the same!

Derek asked from the beginning to have illustrations in the book that would help give it that TOFLOF feeling. I always love the simplicity but at the same time complexity of 2 colored screenprints. Just simple rough shapes, puzzled together creating a stunning image. That was our inspiration and goal. Derek took us on a trip trough his personal hot spots in Rotterdam and we photographed it all. So many nice TOF places he knows, we could of made 50 illustrations! We ended up with 16, which was already way more work than expected, but I think it really adds to the book.
The whole book is binded with red thread, it literally is the read thread of his story running through the book.

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"Shon was medeverantwoordelijk voor het ontwerp en artwork van mijn tweede dichtbundel TOFLOF. Dat is echt onze bundel geworden; Shon denkt mee en stopt niet met schetsen, schrappen en schaven tot het originele concept een tastbaar product van hoog niveau is geworden. Daar spreekt naast professioneel perfectionisme, ook grote kunde en oprechte liefde voor zijn vak uit. Samen met talent zorgt Shon z’n ervaring voor een zeldzame expertise als het aankomt op zijn ambacht, want dat is het. Het enthousiasme merkte ik al bij de eerste briefing/pitch en daar was ik blij mee; de mooiste dingen kunnen in mijn optiek namelijk alleen ontstaan met positieve energie. Niet alleen is mijn aanvankelijke concept tot in de puntjes uitgevoerd; het idee is via illustraties, lettering en ontwerp ook echt naar een hoger niveau getild. First name Shon, last name Price, ik zeg: werk met die man!"
Derek Otte - Dichter en spoken word-artiest