Rembrandt's Comet

Working with an author who desires to make a positive change in the world through a passion for art history and learning from those before us.


A year ago I was referred to a most wonderful creative couple with self publishing dreams. After a first online video meeting they opened their world to me and invited me on their journey. The first book was The Foldings, followed by Slim Island, a second version of The Foldings, and then Stratosphere, all written by Gordon Kurby (his pseudonym). All of these books were the testing phase for the true baby, his recent book release, Rembrandt’s Comet.

I will endeavour to do my best a providing a synopsis of this book. It’s not fiction, but filled with intelligent debate, some might say conspiracy theories, proving meanings behind the efforts of the artists, Rembrandt, Jan van Eyck, and Gerrit Lundens who was commissioned to copy one of Rembrandt’s artworks. This is not a standard art reference book or textbook, but instead a discussion about art history in some serious out of the box perceptions. The author challenges you to try your hand at seeing and discovering art from centuries ago in a new light of reflection.



What I was tasked to design was a thesis on the work of Rembrandt and a couple other inspired artists. We had many discussions about the gist of the book and their vision of it before I was given the manuscript, after ensuring non-disclosure, I was challenged with creating the thesis into an art book that also works as a textbook but would reach beyond academia.

My story of the design process begins with starting out with the idea of a landscape 8.5 x 11 hard cover book with one column of text that would take up ⅔ of the page allowing for side bar images and notes. The feedback was positive and it seemed the author was easy to please.

RC_version 1 spread.png

But I wasn’t sold on it.

It was a first run and after sitting with it and having an honest conversation with my client, we both admitted that something was off, in fact I think he felt that earlier but was gracious to trust my design vision. We both found after being completely honest with each other that the layout wasn’t engaging or had any unique creative flair. As awkward and challenging as this type of conversation can be, they are the most important. I have learned over my twenty years in design to push through my fear and angst when discussion my creative. Learning that the work I create if flawed, does not mean that my creative skills are flawed, they just need to be honed.

So I grabbed some copies of UPPERCASE’s Encyclopedia series for some inspiration and threw the idea of adjusting the size of the book to square, 8.5” x 8.5”. Giving it a unique feel without being too clunky. I was also inspired to altered the design from one column to two justified ones with a large inside margin to give breathing space while giving it a sense of white space to allow the art to shine. To top it all off and add a creative flair to feeling of the publication I added in a decorative divider line as an element that would serve to align images with copy and also section out images and flow for the reader.

UPPERCASE Encyclopedia “Stitches” volume compared to the layout of “Rembrandt’s Comet”.

UPPERCASE Encyclopedia “Stitches” volume compared to the layout of “Rembrandt’s Comet”.

More colour was introduced to showcase the different sections, being able to flip through the book and you would know where you were and what piece of art was the feature.


One of the elements of the book was to bring attention to details of the paintings so I added a classic zoom style graphic to help the reader to see the parts of the paintings with the author’s comments and when possible I would simply circle the section with the interior brighter than the full image behind it. Subtle ways to draw the eye to the story being told.


To account for a unique reference section talking about Goethe’s Theory of Color, the author wanted to make sure that the reader didn’t consider this part of the story, simply an insert for education as they could understand the background and theory discussed in the thesis. I chose to box in the text while keeping everything in line with the margins and spacing of the full document. We wanted it highlighted without being made prominent in the design.

Throughout this process, the author provided image files to use and we worked together to ensure copyrights were respected. Without busying up the book itself I created a reference section that listed all the images and where we could make the image contributions listed. Many of the images were drawn from Wikipedia, with an exception there were a couple that we did require to purchase a stock licence from an art stock site. The important to ensure the images were high quality for the size and use was very important.

The book took over eight months from start to finish to publish. It was important to not rush this, as it was it took the author a few years already for the manuscript, so rushing the design process would only infringe on the work he had invested into it.

This is an independently published by Star Swim LLC through Ingramspark. We chose the hard cover book with a matte coated book wrap. The size of this book did not offer a dust jacket option and in retrospect we should have included an author description page which I will add to my list of updates should the author want to upload a new version. One of the benefits of on-demand publishing is being able to make changes for future sales, also what you pay for in the price per book.


Regardless I am proud of how this book turned out. My client is happy, if you can interpret his message in my copy - let me know. But I think the sketch of the heart is a tell tale sign of appreciation. You can purchase this book on Amazon for yourself or a gift for an art lover.