Monday, March 24, 2008

Memoirs of a Geisha: Book Cover

In Memoirs of a Geisha book cover I pursued to design it based solely on the motifs of the book. The design consisted of a willow tree on the front cover and on the back cover there was a geisha that was holding a fan. These symbols were only mentioned when Sayuri was content. I found the tree, snow and a geisha dancing with a fan to be very strong symbolic features in the book.

In this first passage Sayuri shares her passion for dancing, “What I discovered that afternoon was that when my body felt heavy, I could move with great dignity”(153). In the passage Sayuri gives the reader an understanding of what her body feels like before she sets of on a dance routine. She claims that her body feels “heavy” when she is standing and that she could move with great “dignity.” She mentions dignity because she feels almost honored to be dancing as a Geisha and be able to express herself through dance, without tarnishing her reputation. To Sayuri dance makes her feel honored and respected, because being watched by men and admired causes her to feel respect. The Geisha on the back of the book cover was placed there because its purpose was to symbolize Sayuri dancing with her fan.

In this next passage Sayuri compares her life to a winter scene, “ Several years had passed since I’d learned the sad news about my family, and it was amazing to me how completely the landscape of my mind had changes. We all know that a winter scene, though it may be covered over one day, with even the trees dressed in shawls of snow, will be unrecognizable the following spring, Yet I had never imagined such a thing could occur within our selves”(161). Sayuri ponders her life after finding out her family’s fate. Both her parents passed away and her sister ran away forever. The winter scene is described as her way of thinking. She claims that the snow that falls over the trees every season and disappear every spring is like a metaphor for how she changed as a person. She was exposed to a life of adulthood, where she needed to grow up fast and put her childhood on hold forever. The snow motif was an essential motif to the book that was why I chose to interpret that into the book cover by making the tree white instead of having snow on the tree. I thought the cover would be more appealing to the audience if the tree were simply white instead of making the tree it’s natural colors.

The last motif I believed was very important was the tree, to be more specific a willow tree. Even though Sayuri mentioned a willow tree once to describe someone, I thought that a willow tree was an appropriate representation of Sayuri and her life as a Geisha. In this passage Sayuri is seventy years old and she believes she has become like a tree, “But life softened into something much more pleasant after the Chairman became my danna. I began to feel like a tree whose roots had at last broken into the rich, wet soil deep beneath the surface”(419). After spending a life comparing others to nature she can once be proud of her life present day and compare herself to a tree that is stable and is able to grow into a happy and healthy tree. The purpose of the tree on the front cover was to symbolize Sayuri at the end of the book, finding happiness after spending her whole life trying to find it. Then she finally becomes whole.

Overall the cover was based on the character Sayuri and how she was able to come out of the lonely, isolated world of snow covered trees and become her own tree of life. Her dancing was the only thing that kept her going and gave her the confidence she needed to move on. The book cover embraced Sayuri’s character and demonstrates a true understanding of one of Japan’s most important Geishas.


Jessica F. 6 said...

This piece was very challenging for me. It challenged my creative and artisitic side, the bookcover was challenging due to the fact that I was not that familiiar with Adobe photoshop. I used the program and became more familiar with it thanks to this project. I also enjoyed working on a creative piece like this even though I am not the most creative and artisitc person in the class. I chose this piece to go into my portfolio because I felt like it challenged me and I was very proud of the outcomes to the challenges I faced.