Mark Ecob, Voting for the Right Cover

Mark Ecob is Creative Director for Mecob Design Ltd., a designed studio specializing in book publishing. Here he discusses his process for the recently released title, Anthony Barnett's The Lure of Greatness, published by Unbound.


The choices we’ve faced as a country over the last year and their effects have been epic on a global scale. Nationalism is on the rise and our leaders create more questions than answers, all available 24/7 through a plethora of biased international media. We’re bombarded by Brexit and Trump tweets everyday, so who do we listen to?

It’s simple, listen to those whose words resonate with you, but also know that your freedom of choice comes with allowing others their own. Anthony Barnett, the co-Founder of openDemocracy, is someone you might trust. And if you don’t, give him that chance anyway by reading The Lure of Greatness, published by Unbound.

As a voter, I’m getting apathetic, so when I was asked by Unbound to design the cover for Anthony’s book, I took the chance to try to cut through the noise. With the original title (What Next? Britain After Brexit), I started with a range of ideas, some of which followed, some of which led…

 
 

The star was the strongest, the voting slip was liked (but more so for a paperback), and the type on the cut-off EU flag got some good noises. I just had to try the broken flag, but it wasn’t right for this book. We took stars and strong type forward, and then I brought in a voting box motif to reflect the split in the national vote. Typographic covers are a love of mine, but there has to be some basic theme or concept there for me. We approved the double voting box design until...

 
round2.jpg
 

...another author claimed What Next? as a title for a book that was going to beat us to market. After a shift of focus, The Lure of Greatness was born. And here’s where I went with it... 

 
 

Despite having a lot of fun with it, suggesting caravanning stickers and eagles sitting on bull dogs (yes, I get paid for this), it was agreed that one single image couldn’t do the work. The confident  type on the yellow ‘REXIT TRUM’ visual was the strongest. The other books emerging on Brexit and its ensuing events were all smart and typographic, and we wanted to add something extra. I found inspiration in Trump’s campaign material, believe it or not... 

 
 

The directness of it chimed with those early typographic covers, so I began there. Druk was my weapon of choice, for its CAP height in the condensed weights. The family’s diversity allowed me to deal with the length of ‘GREATNESS’ and the shortness of ‘LURE OF’ nicely.

Having seen David Pearson use it beautifully on a Pluto Books series back in 2015, where he mixed the weights and made longer titles sit with ease in a simple design, I knew this would be the right way to go... 

 
 

After a few more rounds, we removed the flag-like colour palette, and moved to the classic red, white and black combination. Some texture and the angle gave it something none of the other covers on Brexit used, an of-the-moment grit and seriousness, as if it was a political flier printed quickly. It would have been amazing to screen print these, but time was short – we were aiming to publish on the anniversary of the referendum. Also, the flexablity of working digitally to create the printed look allowed for any last minute surprises.

And here’s the result, complete with a debossed pie chart on the outer boards showing the 52 % / 48% in the Brexit referendum... 

 
 

After we finished the cover, I tweeted it and it was kindly picked up by the ever-awesome Casual Optimist in the Book Covers of Note June 2017 round-up.

I have to say I was surprised; when you’re working on a list of many books, you work quickly and instinctivley, responding to challenges as they appear. But that made me stop and think about how the simplest of designs can sometimes be the most engaging, and that so much of what designers do is subconscious.

Like voting, I went with my gut on this design, but listened to those around me before making my choice. Here’s hoping Anthony’s book opens some eyes and ears, it was a pleasure to give it a face. 


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Painter, Designer, Lifelong bibliophile.

@PaintbrushMania