David Mann is an Art Director for Bloomsbury Publishing. As well as designing covers for the likes of Margaret Atwood and William Boyd, he has created this stunning cover for Brian Carter. Here he walks us through his process for creating A Black Fox Running.
Aimie K. Runyan has been drawn to historical fiction for most of her life. It “has the ability to transport you through time and space, where contemporary fiction has less of that. It requires so much more description, and makes the writing so much more vibrant, which is one of the joys, and challenges, of the genre,” said Runyan. In her latest book, Daughters of the Night Sky, Runyan takes the reader to the front lines of World War II in Soviet Russia, and tells a tale of war, flight, and women’s rights.
Zoe Norvell is a Brooklyn based freelance cover designer. Among her incredible work is the cover for Getting Off: One Woman's Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction, by Erica Garza. Here Norvell details her process for developing the work, in her own words.
Holly Ovenden is a designer working in-house at Bloomsbury Publishing in London. Among her amazing works is the paperback cover for Jenny Zhang's Sour Heart. Here she details her process for creating the cover in her own words.
When the Great Books Foundation, a Chicago-based not-for-profit, contacted design duo Anne Jordan and Mitch Goldstein to design not one but threecovers (and a boxed set slipcover) for a three-part anthology on popular culture, the pair immediately accepted the challenge. Great Books, after all, need great covers. Jordan and Goldstein’s design process for this project, however, reveals the art of transforming noble ideas and values into provocative images and designs. Throughout the process, Jordan and Goldstein leaned on the abstract to convey the utility and inspiration of pop culture, even in modern intellectual circles.
Successful college students master the art of the juggle: multiple classrooms in multiple buildings, multiple courses with multiple projects, plus roommates and classmates and jobs and on the best days, eating and sleeping. After finishing her second year in the film and animation program at Rochester Institute of Technology, where she's focusing on 3D animation, student Alyssa Minko decided to take it up a notch: She agreed to illustrate a children's book.
Sean Garrehy is an Art Director for Little, Brown and Company. Among the many amazing works in his portfolio is the cover for Shirley-Anne Macmillan's The Unknowns. Below he details for us his rationale for the design in his own words.
In this episode we interview Jo Thomson, a freelance book cover designer who previously worked in-house at Pan Macmillan. Thomson is the recipient of a British Book Design & Production Award for Best Jacket for Not Working, by Lisa Owens. She also earned and ABCD Award for her cover design of Haus Frau, by Jill Alexander Essbaum.
A Secret Sisterhood explores four literary friendships: between Jane Austen and her brother's playwriting employee Anne Sharp; between Charlotte Brontëand her strong-minded schoolmate, feminist writer Mary Taylor; between George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe, American author of Uncle Tom's Cabin; and between Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield, whose complicated friendship other biographers have reduced to rivalry.
A good cover conceals and reveals a book’s content. It spills just enough narrative to interest potential readers, but it leaves much to the imagination. Consider Lauren Wakefield’s recent cover for Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott’s Swan Song a primer in walking the line between closure and exposure: dichromatic scallops envelop a near-faceless woman’s poised body, the sharp line of her cigarette disrupting the rounded pattern. Then the title, big and bold and white, enchants us with just enough late-1950s flair to transport us to a smokier, sexier era. Only a cover this demure will do for a book about Truman Capote and his relationships with a group of elite, secretive society women he dubbed his ‘swans.’ After several initial visuals—some too vague and some too on-the-nose—Wakefield created a cover that recalls the charm and darkness of Capote’s social circles.
Sarah Kaufman is an Associate Art Director with HarperCollins Children's Publishers. She has created many notable covers for books such as the Red Queen series, and the Outliers trilogy. Kaufman was kind enough to answer a few questions for Spine about her design process.
In her first novel, the high-concept thriller Yesterday, Felicia Yap explores memory and its effects on relationships. Half the book's characters are "Duos," who can only remember the last 48 hours. The remaining characters remember even less; "Monos" only recall yesterday. While characters constantly write in journals ("iDiaries") to save present details for future review, in many ways their lives are a constant surprise.
Mark Read is a book cover designer and art director based in London. Among the incredible work in his portfolio is the cover for Dr. Tim Cantopher's Toxic People: Dealing with Dysfunctional Relationships. Here he describes his process for creating the design, in his own words.
As 2017 draws to an end, we at Spine would like to take a look back at some of the more remarkable book covers that we have seen over the last year. There was a great deal of amazing work out there. Though we could probably go on forever about this year's designs, we limited our selection to fifty.
All the #metoo posts got me thinking about how women everywhere needed to feel they were not alone anymore. Do you know what the loneliest feeling is? Thinking you are alone. An odd (wo)man out. The person who humorlessly “doesn’t get it”.
Some people can only feel satiated by power. And they feel most powerful when they can take power by diminishing others. When silencing or bullying others, they convince themselves of their supremacy. And one of the most effective disguises of their true harmful intentions is humor.
Messy family dynamics. Social anxiety. Abuse. Healing. As a teenager, Akemi Dawn Bowman struggled through all of it. Looking back, she realized a book addressing these difficult experiences would have helped. So she wrote it.
To write the story of 19th century charlatan photographer William Mumler is to write much of the story of the American 19th century itself. In Peter Manseau's latest book The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln's Ghost, the award-winning author tells many tales: of the rise of photography, of the development of a distinctly American popular culture, of a nation left grieving in the wake of the Civil War, of a people aching for something to believe in — and finding it in Spiritualism and in William Mumler's "spirit photography."
We’re taking a break from our usual design discussion to bring you this bonus episode.
Earlier this year when we were developing this podcast we took a look at several different formats for the show. One of the thoughts we had was to discuss with authors the process of bringing one of their books to life. Which led us to record an interesting conversation with author Erika Swyler. Erika's first novel was the Book of Speculation. She has a fascinating story to tell as to how she became involved with the pitching process for that book. We also talked to her about writing, and a little bit about her current project.
The spare, often floral, book cover designs of 19th Century Boston artist Sarah Wyman Whitman might conjure memories of piles of forgotten books at garage and estate sales. Think thin gold lettering on quiet green cloth. Think precious leaves and hearts. In a bookstore today, where slick, pyrotechnic covers compete for buyers’ attention, you might overlook Whitman’s designs for their antiquated simplicity. And you might regret it. Whitman, whose artistic career and social influence made her one of Boston’s most prolific and intriguing artists, may easily be considered the mother of modern book cover design. At a time when cover design was dominated by ornate flourish and, well, men, she ushered in a new minimalism that continues to speak for itself.
I'm sitting on a train on my way to London, and I'm ridiculously excited. Today I get to hang out at Bonnier Zaffre, the newest kid on the publishing playground. And this kid has had its Weetabix, already luring in big-time authors such as Lynda La Plante and Wilbur Smith.
Bonnier Zaffre is the brainchild of CEO Mark Smith. A quick internet search reveals that zaffre is “a blue pigment obtained by roasting cobalt ore (and also) a cobalt blue colour.” Not the most obvious name for a publisher but Mark Smith chose it himself as he is a particular fan of the colour. Smith joined Bonnier in 2014 to start a fiction arm of Bonnier Publishing, itself part of global media group Bonnier AB, a Swedish conglomerate heavily involved in improving the Swedish education system by donating books to schools on a regular basis. The new publishing house has “the entrepreneurial spirit of a start-up, with the financial backing of a parent company with revenues of more than 6 billion euros.”
Raffa, the short-statured, brave-hearted hero of Linda Sue Park's Wing & Claw trilogy, possesses the encyclopedic knowledge of flora required of a young apothecary. He easily recalls each plant's physical and medicinal properties, and comprehends how best to combine and manipulate to achieve the desired affects in human subjects. But Raffa holds something more inside him than most "pothers." Witness:
"[Raffa] pounded the stem and leaves of the scarlet vine to a pulp, then added some to the poultice. As he stirred, the paste began to take on a gentle vermilion glow, and in his mind he heard something that sounded like a faraway cowbell … ."
Mark Swan is a designer for Kid-ethic, a studio specializing in print design for the publishing and film industries. Here Swan details his process for developing the cover to Antti Tuomainen's The Man Who Died, in his own words.
In this episode we talk to cover designer M. S. Corley. Corley works with traditionally published and independent authors alike. He's designed covers for best selling author Hugh Howey, Aaron Mahnke's Lore series, and many other great books.
Holly MacDonald studied illustration at Camberwell College before moving onto publishing. She began as a Junior at Transworld, and has since worked both in-house (at Bloomsbury and Oneworld) and as a freelance designer. MacDonald is currently a Deputy Art Director at HarperCollins. Here she details her process for designing the cover of Lionel Shriver’s The Standing Chandelier.
Tom Bevan is a designer and illustrator currently residing in Leyton (UK). Among his works are recent cover creations for Marc Behm's Eye Of The Beholder and Afraid to Death. Here Bevan details his process for creating these pieces, in his own words.
Kew Gardens, the historic, 299-acre botanical garden in southwest London, sits at the heart of Tor Udall's first novel, A Thousand Paper Birds. The main characters — a widowing musician, a struggling origami artist, a grief-stricken linguist, a curious child, and a quiet gardener — push through time, through grief, even through the porous borders separating the living from the dead. As their narratives intertwine, the characters crisscross Kew Gardens, from memorial bench to glasshouse, from woodland to pond.
Nico Taylor is a Literary Art-Director at Little, Brown Book Group in London. Among the works in his portfolio is the cover for Claire Messud's The Burning Girl. Her he details his process for developing the cover in his own words.
Ruth Young arrived first. The 30-year-old sonographer showed up before her ex-boyfriend and before her younger brother. She even arrived before her parents: her mother, recently obsessed with vitamins; her recovering alcoholic, philandering, history professor father, battling Alzheimer's disease. All these characters play central roles in Rachel Khong's first novel, Goodbye Vitamin, but first, said Khong, came Ruth.
For this episode we talk to Anne Jordan and Mitch Goldstein, cover designers for such titles as Humankind by Timothy Morton and Because of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez. The couple are also responsible for many incredible book covers for academic publishers. Their award winning designs have been highlighted by AIGA and Design Observer, as well as Print Magazine.
Only in M.S. Corley’s world do Jesus, folklore, marginal fiction, video games, monsters, and all things 19th century converge and construct the ultimate creative environment. In this space, he concocts book covers design that convey and conceal the darkness on the page. A designer and illustrator with an expansive portfolio, Corley credits his haunting, unique cover designs to a lifelong affinity for the spooky, the supernatural, and the unexplained. “Prior to working on book covers, I've done a lot of other illustration work both personal and for clients that could be classified as horror,” Corley remarked. “My interests generally fall into the line of ghosts, monsters and the supernatural, so drawing spooky imagery was always my thing. And it ended up bleeding into my book cover work too.”