Book Covers: Before and After
“Four designers discuss their work on recent book covers: first a concept that didn’t make the final cut, and then the cover that ended up on the book.”
Love to see killed cover concepts! But I do think the final designs featured in this article are the better ones, except for the Ballard covers (from Jason Booher), where I think the original is more arresting and original.
Porter Square Books Blog recently posted an Interesting interview with book designer Peter Mendelsund.
Do you feel any particular responsibilities to the book, author, and/or publishers?
My job as book designer and art director is predicated on the idea that I will help sell a book, and to the extent that I do that, successfully position a book in the marketplace by making the appropriate jacket for it, I am fulfilling my responsibilities to the publisher.
In terms of my responsibility to the author and the book…representing the text is not (at least not patently) something I’m paid to do, but I see this act as a moral imperative. Characterizing, explicating, interpreting a text visually is the most interesting and gratifying aspect of what I do. When I fail at this task of signifying what a book is (or I am urged or directed in some way to betray what I see as a book’s essential nature) there’s a palpable sense of loss and guilt. It feels important to me that a book’s cover should not be dissonant with, or oblivious to, the text within. A book cover should be a book’s true face; which is to say, optimally, a jacket or cover will be a kind of visual translation of the book in question. So—to the extent that I successfully describe or epitomize a book—its plot, its themes, its affect…I am fulfilling my responsibilities to the book and to its author.
Peter has to be one of the most talented and interesting book cover designers out there, and his blog is well worth reading; jacketmechanical.blogspot.co.uk/ or look at more of his work here.
The Smithsonian Libraries have an online ‘galaxy of images’. One of the collections is Book Arts & Design which has some really fascinating typography and book covers from the modernist period, as well as pre-modernism such as the selection above. Love it, so rich especially the Jules Verne cover!
Happy World Book Day !
To celebrate, here is a random selection of good book covers I’ve added to my pinterest collection lately. Loads more, and sources/designers of the ones above can be found here;
That Dracula cover is quite something, and since it’s book day not book cover day, read Dracula if you haven’t before! Can’t recommend it enough.
NY Times- Favorite Book Cover Designs of 2012
"We asked people in and around the world of graphic design to name one of their favorite book covers from 2012 and briefly describe its appeal. "
Some really great designs! And picked by some of the best book designers around, oh and The Casual Optimist (who this link was via). While I’m on about book designers, people in the UK can see Jon Gray (featured here previously) on tv! Check out this on iplayer and skip to 25 minutes in, for a few minutes about book design.
I first saw Cardon Webb’s new cover for The Invisible Man on Pinterest with no info below it, totally didn’t realise it was a contemporary cover! Being a lover of Mid-Century Modern (see my other blog), especially Lustig, Rand and Jazz album covers, I’m obviously going to think these are amazing (and I most definitely do). But personal preference aside they are also very vibrant and eye catching with excellent lettering. As well as having a good reason behind them;
“Ralph Ellison, one of the foremost African American authors of the literary canon, fell in love with music before he focused on writing. That’s why designer Cardon Webb researched record art and type from the mid-century jazz era to create fresh new covers for six of Ellison’s seminal works.”
I’ve been meaning to blog some of Cardon’s work for ages since he launched his new website, but whittling it down proved pretty difficult since I love all his work. Very talented designer, worth looking at his portfolio. Plus his excellent other websites;
- http://www.cardonuncovers.com/ for rejected cover designs ( I like these a lot).
- http://www.cardoncopy.com/ a project you may have seen before where he takes down hand-done flyers in his neighbourhood and replaces them with his own designs. Which is simultaneously interesting, hilarious and great design as well.
Nicholas Blake series design for Vintage books, designed by La Boca.
Via Booketing (which has an interview in French with La Boca)
Book designer extraordinaire Jon Gray (aka Gray318) has a nice new website where you can see lots of his work; http://gray318.com/ . The 9 book covers above are just a selection I like and don’t think I’ve posted before. That Capote must be one of my favorite covers!
His newest book jacket, for The Yellow World, is lovely. But best not seen as just a front cover! Luckily you can see the whole design on The Dieline in a post from today; http://www.thedieline.com/blog/2012/11/6/yellow-world.html