Making of Wild Things


Being a graphic designer, Jill Bell wanted to do something different with the hundreds of thousands of digital photos she’d taken…besides move them to ever increasing quantities and sizes of hard drives. A print version of a photo album kept coming to mind: a modest sized coffee table book that would reflect the beauty of what she’d seen and captured and be gently informative as well. Of course enthusiastic friends, colleagues and family members encouraged her to show her work, make prints and make a book. But what looks great on Facebook or Instagram is far from being the quality required for print. With the goal to show and identify a wide variety of creatures and places, a lot of culling down had to take place. There were so many photos of some subjects like the Bald Eagle that they could easily fill a book or two by themselves. Like her photo collection, the book project expanded uncontrollably in time and extent, defying attempts to bring it in on time. But it got done…and a book is a very satisfying, sensual thing. It is her perpetual, virtual vacation to where the wild things are.

From the beginning of the project, she saw kids as one of the target audiences of her book. As a child, Bell enjoyed spending hours pouring over books of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures amazed by the strangeness and variety of nature. She also always loved receiving an “adult” quality book: a hard bound book worthy of cherishing and keeping forever. So another goal was to make something the child in her loved and desired, in addition to her primary plan of preserving and sharing her photographic journeys in a book.