A24 takes an “extremely eclectic” tour of Florida in a 574-page, flamingo pink book
Illustrated entirely by local Gabriel Alcala, Florida! takes the road less travelled – with stop-offs at prehistoric springs and bikini-clad coleslaw wrestling contests.
- Liz Gorny
- 20 September 2022
It’s pink. That’s the first thing you notice about A24’s Florida! Not only is the colour a genuine Benjamin Moore paint colour swatch, but Florida Pink is the exact hue, according to book designer Jordi Ng. “It’s a pale, not-quite-pastel pink that shows up in many facets of Florida," Jordi tells us. It’s the same colour as common Floridian birds like pink flamingos and of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom facade in the 1990s. And now it’s the exact shade of A24’s new “almost 600-page beast” of a travel guide, all about the sunshine state.
Any dyed-in-the-wool A24 fan will know that it has already told stories about Florida, not through one book – as it does now – but through films like The Florida Project, set in a budget motel in Disney World’s shadow. Zola, Spring Breakers and Moonlight also add to its numerous multifaceted portrayals which, as we find out through Florida!, is the only real way to tell the story of the state. “There were even times when we were asked [by A24] to remove film stills, so it didn’t feel like we were hawking A24 work,” Elana Schlenker, who designed the book alongside Jordi Ng, tells us.
So what can readers expect? Local history, essays, maps, interviews with locals and how-to guides – including a step-by-step diagram on “kicking a shark’s ass”, says Elana – make up just a fraction of the content. All underpinned by fantastic design, the text looks into the many different Floridas that exist, depending on who you ask. Elana reflects on the project: “From a design perspective, we got really excited about finding ways to visually pull all this information apart.”
Gabriel Alcala, the Florida local who illustrates the book cover to cover, was instrumental in this process. “Initially, we actually intended to share a range of illustration options with A24, but as Jordi and I dug into our design proposal, Gabe really felt like the ideal fit,” says Elana. “His style and sense of humour so nicely complemented the tone of the book and its design.” Flicking through Florida!, Gabe’s art often seems to influence the presentation of a layout, which Jordi attests to the “intensely collaborative” relationship the trio had. Gabe also illustrates many of the locals interviewed, allowing them “to get wacky and highlight certain magical qualities about each person”, says Jordi. There is also a range of great photography at work in Florida! – both contemporary and licensed vintage work, owing to the sheer amount of imagery the book required.
Design-wise, it’s hard to look past the fun of Florida!. Though Jordi and Elana made sure to stick to a design structure that facilitates functional travel advice too – even assigning a different earmark colour for each geographical region of the state. But these details aren’t at the expense of having a good time. For example, the embossed cover, with type inspired by travel postcards and use of foam materials, feels tactile, puffy even.
“We wanted Florida! to feel almost as if it was inflated, like something you could take in the pool,” Elana recalls. Some of the earliest concepts included an inflatable cover – a testament to the endlessly ambitious vision behind the mammoth pink work. Elana adds: “We wanted to do pink edging, too, but it was unfortunately out of our production budget!”
GalleryA24: Florida! A Hyper-local Guide to the Flora, Fauna, and Fantasy of the Most Far-out State in America (Copyright © A24, 2022)
A24: Florida! A Hyper-local Guide to the Flora, Fauna, and Fantasy of the Most Far-out State in America (Copyright © A24, 2022)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.