Kick-off: The WPA project at Florida State University

Denise Bookwalter approached me in the Fall of 2013 about working on a collaborative project with Small Craft Advisory Press. After a bit of research, I found an unpublished manuscript on the website of the Florida State Archives. The manuscript was a collection of non-fiction stories written for children in Florida by writers for the WPA. I proposed that we re-publish this manuscript, through the eyes of paired sets of artists and writers.

Here’s my original notes from the process:


A writer and a book artist interpret the same chapter from the WPA’s guide to Florida. The content should update/reform/critique the original text, not just illustrate it. The process of how this happens is like a game. Constraints and rules are set, and each individual develops ideas and content before merging these ideas into a single form:

  1. Each writer picks a chapter, and develops writing inspired by the chapter. (Ashley G, maybe you can help come up with a way to describe the length and quantity. We don’t want a whole manuscript, but maybe 3 to 4 poems, or a list of words, or a short essay).

Each book artist/printer is assigned one of the selected chapters and develops imagery and sequence (pattern, imagery and color, even structure, but using few or no words).The writer and the artist can talk about their ideas, but can’t show each other the work until both visual and textual ideas are in semi-realized form.

  1. Then, the mash-up happens. The writer and book artist share/show each other the ideas, there is editing and revision for both components, and a final design is developed.
  1. I imagine the final form of all the work as a series of pamphlets or a multi-section book of some kind, containing all seven chapters. Structural considerations, ideas and other constraints can be discussed in December?


A group of 7 to 10 designers/printers and 7 to 10 writers. My suggestions are below, but they are just suggestions, and I think we could have up to ten pairs.