Miracle Motors


Miracle Motors: a Pert Near True Story is a post-modern narrative theology disguised as a page-turning motorcycle memoir. I was originally commissioned to do maps for the inside of the book, and ended up with the immensely satisfying job of doing the cover as well. Set largely in Oregon and the southwestern United States, along dusty highways in remote areas, I wanted to integrate the cover copy into an illustration native to that landscape. A disused gas station seemed to be the perfect setting. While I love the utility of the UPC, it is not terribly conducive to good design. It is a necessary evil, not an aid to aesthetics, so I always strive to integrate it into the design as much as possible, rather than plop it in haphazardly or carve out a space for it to sit – segregated, shunned and alone. So in this case I illustrated a fallen sign leaning agains the base of its former perch. It fits nicely into the scene of this dilapidated and age-worn building, and also provides a proper home for the barcode.The motorcycle is an illustration of the author’s own ride.

While the line drawing was all done in pen on paper, this was my first foray into watercolor in Photoshop (as opposed to my usual method of actual watercolor on paper).


The interior maps illstrate the routes of the three trips taken over the course of the book. The author wanted the maps to have visual cues tying locations to events in the book, and she often named places on the map after events or references to the text rather than the actual places. For instance in Oregon there’s pie instead of Burns Junction. The map of the Southwestern states has its own difficulty. Because they naturally have more of a portrait orientation, we decided to lay the map out over the entire spread. This means that it would lose some content to the gutter. I stretched the map by a carefully calculated amount so that when the book was opened and turned it still had the appearance of being proportionate despite the gutter.  

Hand letters list of things Peggy packed on her trip

And of course no road trip is complete without a list of all the stuff you’re going to try to cram onto your motorcycle.

Finally, we included a map of Africa with the location of Burundi, where the third trip in the book occurred.

Hand drawn map of Africa