David Bowie Themed ‘Diamond Dolls’ Book

Though David Bowie may be best remembered for the ease with which he reinvented himself throughout his career, he did so by picking apart the culture around him and rearranging those pieces collage-like into stunning, never before seen words, sounds and images. Ziggy Stardust himself gets a similar collage treatment in “Diamond Dolls,” the latest book by London artist Hormazd Narielwalla [projects / website].

David Bowie Themed ‘Diamond Dolls’ Book

Its name an homage to Bowie’s 1974 album “Diamond Dogs,” this piece was designed by Kieran McGlone, printed by Boss Print [projects / website], and co-published by Boss’ Concentric Editions and EMH Arts. It was conceived as a large art installation folded neatly down into a small, 9.5” x 6.5” package, and what a handsome package it is.

David Bowie Themed ‘Diamond Dolls’ Book

It features Winter & Co.’s light cotton Dubletta fabric duplex laminated onto 270 gsm (180 lb.) Colorplan Bitter Chocolate, with the title and artist’s name rendered in Red hot foil against a clear iridescent foil silhouette of the singer’s head. Turning it over we’re met with a button-and-tie closure, the former also cut from Colorplan Bitter Chocolate, this time embossed with a leather texture.

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Opening the package reveals the elegant Gold foiled Concentric Editions logo on a single sheet of paper, which also serves to protect the information sheet, hand-signed by the artist. (This last is on super-thick paper stock and features a beautiful Gold foil stamped pattern on the back.)

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Beneath these are a pair of accordion-folded brochures about the artist and Bowie with different Japanese patterns on the back matching the Red of the foil on the cover. The patterns purposefully show through and are printed in reverse so that they match the different book cover patterns perfectly, lending the pieces a haunting, otherworldly effect.

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Removing these we, at last, come to the main event. Or better said 3 main events, as the work comes in 3 volumes, labeled Act I, Act II and Act III.

David Bowie Themed ‘Diamond Dolls’ Book

Each rejoices in the same iridescent foil Bowie head that was glimpsed on the package, only this time it is set against a Red background featuring a different delicious, clear iridescent foil pattern. The title and Act number on the front covers are rendered in a distressed-looking Gold foil. Finally, mounted on super-thick card stock, the edges of the covers are gilded with holographic Silver foil.

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Opening each Act is a dramatic event since doing so reveals that each of them consists of 28 accordion folded pages that fold out into larger pieces. These stand like Japanese shoji screens, a nod to the singer’s fascination with Japanese aesthetics.

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All 3 volumes include the same “Ziggy Stardust” face repeated 12 times, some highlighted with clear iridescent foil “hair” that reflects the light like stage lighting at a concert. Rendered on 12 different panels, each is suspended above a different, insanely elaborate costume.

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Comprised of unique pattern combinations, the outfits seem to defy reality – appearing either too balloon-like or impossibly pinched – and also bring to mind the male actors who play female roles in Japan’s kabuki theater tradition, which themselves influenced Bowie’s approach to gender fluidity and sexuality.

If this collage style looks familiar, it should; we featured Hormazd Narielwalla’s earlier book from Concentric Editions, “Paper Dolls,” not so long ago. Much of the London artist’s collage work explores how clothing tells a story, frequently featuring collage pieces affixed to vintage sewing patterns.

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The rich, bright nature of the colors in “Diamond Dolls” are courtesy of Boss Print’s use of its “Vivid Colour” extended gamut printing process (CMYK + Violet) combined with super-fine (10 micron dot) stochastic offset printing.

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The back of each of the panels mimics the shape of the outfit featured on the front, this time giving the impression that pieces of paper were collaged together and adhered to the book with artist’s tape.

There are so many other nice touches to be found in this piece, you really do need to peruse it in person in an art gallery say, which, as luck would have it, you can do should you find yourself in London in July.

Hot foil stamping brought a distinctive touch of elegance to this piece, but there are so many other ways to get the shimmer and shine of foil. Discover them, as well as the pros and cons of each, in our free Foil Cheat Sheet. Download yours now!

Project Details

Title ‘Diamond Dolls’ Art Books Client Concentric Editions Date 2021 Design Kieran McGlone Print Boss Print Paper Omnia from Fenner Paper

Production Details

Dimensions 240 mm x 165 mm (9.5” x 6.5”) Page Count 3 x 28 pp. accordion folds Print Quantity 300 Production Cost £24,000 (~$33,578) Production Time 8 weeks Printing Method Stochastic offset (Vivid Colour) Number of Colors 5 Finishing and Binding Foil stamping, gilt edging, folding
and hand assembly
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