Riley and his story.
Riley and his story.
Riley and his story.
Riley and his story.
Riley and his story.
Riley and his story.
Riley and his story.

Riley and his story.

Matthew Rezac Graphic Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2009


Riley and His Story is the result of a three-way collaboration between Monica Haller (visual artist), Riley Sharbonno (Iraq war veteran) and Matthew Rezac (graphic designer). Reconstructing Riley’s experiences at Abu Ghraib prison, where he served as an Army nurse from 2004 to 2005, the book is a visual experience composed of hundreds of digital snapshots taken during Riley’s time in Iraq, many of which he has no memory of taking. His photographs are interspersed with two different texts culled from conversations between Haller and Sharbonno over three years. Conceived as a container rather than a book, the usual conventions of book design were used sparingly: an introductory text written by the artist occupies the cover; the 16 distinct sections are not separated by chapter divisions; page numbers only appear along with the main narrative text; a title page and table of contents (referencing key passages) appear at the very end of the book. The minimal design approach is deliberate, presenting the images and text without obstruction, as one continuous experience. The most dramatic design moment occurs in the central section of the book—an extended mass casualty sequence—wherein the pages are cropped short, allowing images to bleed into and intersect with one another. Here photography, text and design coalesce to relay the trauma of war and its effect on memory.

Juror Notes

Using language as form, this book immediately engages the reader to enter a dialogue. All the formal qualities of the codex combine to create a visceral experience of a horrific environment called war. “This is not a book. This is an invitation, a container for unstable images” in an unstable time.

Collections: 50 Books/50 Covers of 2009
Discipline: Book design
Format: Book


Design firm
Matthew Rezac Graphic Design
Matthew Rezac
Parker Hahn, Riley Sharbonno
Monica Haller, Riley Sharbonno
Monica Haller
onestar press, Fälth & Hässler
Trim size
6.5 x 9.25
Quantity printed
Fälth & Hässler