Ninth Letter chapter openers

Jan. 25, 2021–May 5, 2021
Adobe Illustrator
Adobe InDesign
Type & Image
Natalie F. Smith, instructor


Ninth Letter is an award-winning literary arts journal edited and produced by the creative writing program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The following work was created for Vol. 18 No. 1 as part of a collaboration between a Type and Image course and the publication.

Beautiful Machine

Hugh Martin

In his short memoir, Hugh Martin writes about his near-death experience during Army Basic Combat Training at the hands of a peer and his active duty in Iraq. He recalls the anxiety he felt when thinking about and working with the M1A1 tank and reflects on individuality, hindsight bias, and the unpredictability of life.

Four Tales From Winesburg, Indiana

Michael Martone

Michael Martone’s flash fiction anthology revisits the fictional small town conceptualized in Winesburg, Indiana: A Fork River Anthology — one characterized by idiosyncratic people and “deeply human, sometimes melancholy, and often damned funny” stories.


Students were asked to read and take notes on all of the fiction and nonfiction stories to be included in the edition of the journal. They selected two of the stories to design chapter openers for.

Notes for each short story included a synopsis, themes and important visual elements.


Love, Death & Robots ❤️ ❌ 🤖 — an adult animated anthology television series streaming on Netflix — was my main inspiration for the chapter opener for “Four Tales From Winesburg, Indiana.” Each episode’s animated title card features a set of three icons related to the subject of the episode.

Sketching and Iteration

“Hermoso had a tattoo of a green skull near the top of his spine. He’d drawn the skull himself and we voted it to be our platoon logo with the motto: ‘let the blood flow!!!’ There were three exclamation points after the word ‘flow.’”

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