Hi, my name is Orlagh OBrien, designer of the cover for “Quondam : Travels in a once World”.
When John Devoy and his editor Maurice Sweeney contacted me about doing a cover for John’s ‘travel book’, I was, to say the least, intrigued. A bike half- dragged through a desert? A cycle from Cork to Cape Town via the arctic circle and Madagascar…with neither a Lonely Planet, a google map or a WhatsApp to smooth the way. Hmm!

When I met them, I had just returned from a lengthy walk on the Camino in Spain. As our conversation continued and we dug deeper into that personal journey so long ago… I listened, sketched, scribbled words … and I heard a story of a different scale of distance, both literal and psychological.

The resulting illustration of a sandy, desert-like terrain was based on one of his photos, I wanted it to seem dreamy and surreal, somewhat like the thousand Arabian nights. The falling man is a metaphor, hinting at an archetypal shift; his inner journey, a movement from normal ‘real life’, to a discombobulated experience. Falling out of his old worldview he was spun and disorientated into a new sense of being…culminating in the dramatic experience at the end of the book.

Working with John and Maurice was a pleasure; as fellow artists, they understand the power of space, mystery and metaphor. May you enjoy the journey of this story and the ones to come.

Orlagh OBrien