Kerry Squires, Elegance in Simplicity

Kerry Squires is a non-fiction book cover designer at Macmillan Higher Education in London. Here she answers questions about how she came into the industry, her design process, and selections from her portfolio.


Please tell us how you came to be a book cover designer.

After graduating with a Graphic Design (Ba Hons) from Falmouth University I interned in London at various branding agencies, and through this ended up working on a lot of web based design, despite my background and huge interest in print based work. I very quickly had a realisation that digital based design didn't really inspire me or motivate me in the same way; print based design was the only way forward for me in my design career, and book design fitted perfectly - I landed a Junior Designer role at Macmillan Publishers, and here I am.

Many of your designs very successfully convey a great deal of information without overemphasizing detail. What is your process for distilling concepts down to their basic elements?

It all comes down to the actual concept, however, more often than not I get so excited about an idea I want to push the design to convey it to the viewer in the most simple and intriguing way. I want the audience to feel excited, and hopefully pleasantly surprised or moved when they look at a piece of design. I don't want them to feel confused or dis-orientated in a negative way. This isn't to say that 'busier' designs are any less informed, I, however, personally and naturally enjoy communicating concepts in a way that I find interesting and hopefully the viewer does too. In terms of having a process, I like to initially go back to basics, i'll look at the dictionary description of a keyword in the brief and start collecting visual ideas from there, or i'll collect singular objects that link to the theme of the book. Sometimes I work backwards, too.

Can you explain the imagery in New Performance/New Writing, Ecotherapy: Theory Research & Practice, and The Great War: Western Front and Home Front?

New Performance/New Writing discusses performance in theatre. The dots are referring to a theatre seating arrangement in a dynamic and subtle way, while the coloured pattern represents the rhythm and the importance of audience participation.

Ecotherapy, as a practice, explores the idea of using nature to improve mental and emotional wellbeing. It allows people to immerse themselves in the natural world, and use the experience to become better, mentally. This cover [for Ecotherapy: Theory Research & Practice] represents the space in-between nature and us, and the fact that we are surrounded by it. I also really like how this cover almost looks like a cookbook, but shows the ingredients for mental well-being rather than the ingredients for a quick '10 minute meal' or something.

The Great War: Western Front and Home Front was my first ever book cover design (at Macmillan) - The flight paths and vintage photography create an amazing atmospheric representation of The Great War - twinned with contrasting typefaces representing the outcome of major political changes and revolutions happening at the time.

What creative fascinations are influencing your current projects?

I've always been obsessed with Abstract Expressionism artists from the 1950's, such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. They used typography, colour and composition in an amazing way. Additionally, i'm really enjoying the design language of vintage sci-fi books (from the 60's) at the moment.