About the Cover: Spring Awakenings

A conversation with cover artist Geoff Kim.

New York-based artist Geoff Kim says he looked to 1960s hippie culture for inspiration for this month’s cover. “I guess I’m always trying to do that with my collages in general,” he says. “Collage itself is a relatively new form of visual art, bringing in the totality and reality of print culture and breaking it apart, while at the same time creating something entirely new and untold.” Unlike much of Kim’s other work, his piece for Topic doesn’t include distinctly human elements (except for a pair of lips). The abstract patterns in his creation, which move clockwise, suggest a Rorschach test.

Kim began by creating digitally composed collage “sketches” and moodboards, exploring color palettes and psychedelic elements. An early idea focused on a “seedlike growth from the center that [morphs] outwards into an explosion of color pieces thematically related” to key words chosen for the cover.
The animated composition was conceived as a stitching-together of individual environments, “transitioning between them as separate but interlocked scenes.”

"I actually included human figures and faces in the earlier drafts, but, upon reflection, I think it was better for me to take them out of the final composition,” Kim says. “There are ways to suggest the human form without giving the viewer everything in terms of portraying a body or person. Bananas, for example, were an intentional choice regarding phallic imagery.”

In the end, Kim’s goal was to not just explore the idea of “spring awakenings,” but to impart a feeling of momentum and evolution. “I really only wanted to allude to time in the first moments of the piece, to set the tone of forward movement, and then break away from that in the final moments,” he explains. “Spring couldn’t come any sooner this year. It means waking up from the dream of winter and enjoying that beautiful sunshine.”

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