Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was a research intensive project. I already read the book and had an understanding for the philosophical themes along with the narrative plot but I knew I had to find a way to visually relay the complex philosophy.
I researched various illustrative techniques that represented the Classical thought which was essentially logical and rational thought. I analyzed parts of the text discussing logic that talked about impossibility, math, science, laws, and existence. This led me to research mathematical equations and theories that had a graphical representation and I focused on Euler’s Formula because the theory behind the forumla applied to the philosophical reasoning in the book. I ended up not using the graphical illustration of Euler itself but kept the concept of a linear background for the final product
The second part of the philosophy was the Romantic thought which was related to Taoism, arts, and expression. I researched ways to introduce taoist movement and researched Abstract Expressionists like Clyfford Still and Helen Frankenthaler.
I knew I wanted to incorporate the Super Hawk, Honda CB77, that the characters use for their roadtrip. I sketched out the motorcycle and drew the line similar to a blueprint.
The comps below were drafts where I felt the illustration wasn’t as strong. The blue background was the version that used Euler’s Formula as an illustrative element.
In the end, I used a grid structure to format my type and used lines and circles to indicate the layout of the cover. I illustrated a watercolor motorcycle that expressed the form and referenced flowing movement.