Novelist Julie Israel describes her writing process in no uncertain terms.
“It’s kind of like a bell graph,” she says, “where the thing being measured is chaos.” Similarly chaotic is her unconventional route to debut author stardom. Though she holds the expected B.A in creative writing, Israel prides herself on the more atypical entries in her resume - like her experience teaching English in Japan, which she best summarizes as “HOLY CULTURAL EXPOSURE, BATMAN.”
Spencer Kimble is a book cover designer based in New York City. Among the works in his portfolio is the jacket for author Julie Klam’s The Stars in Our Eyes. Here Kimble details for Spine his process for developing the cover, in his own words.
Leo Nickolls a freelance book cover designer and illustrator with extraordinary talents. Some of his work includes covers for Joanna Nadin's & Anthony McGowan's Everybody Hurts, Chris Womersley's City Of Crows, Allegra Goodman's The Chalk Artist, and the recent 40th Anniversary Edition of Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia. Holly Dunn caught up with him at his studio for Spine.
Lisa Horton is a London-based designer and illustrator. Horton was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule and answer a few questions about her life as a freelancer, and share her creative process behind the cover design of Lisa Heathfield’s young-adult novel, Flight of a Starling.
Hazel Gaynor's writing practice includes a lot more (read on!), but begins and ends with no excuses.
"What I’ve learned since first being published is that regardless of where you write, or what mood you’re in when you get there, you have to show up at your writing place every day, even if only for 15 minutes some days, and get the words down. No excuses."
Freelance designer M. S. Corley has always been interested in supernatural folklore. A fan of the Lore podcast since its beginning, the opportunity to design a cover for a related title was “The dream job, he didn’t know he wanted,” unaware that the book had been in the works.
When he was growing up, writer Sam Miller worked alongside his father in his father's butcher shop. The work was, in Miller's words, "pretty gritty." But also, a stream of fascinating people came by, including a gentleman who lived in the woods and survived on a diet of worms. "He would come in to buy hot sauce for his worms," Miller told Spine.
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.
Simplicity is key. Sure. But so is substance. A clean, minimal graphic only works if it means something. Enter Shayla Bond, the cover designer for SPINE 7. If you think this issue’s cover is cool, you should meet its creator. Bond (even her surname radiates badassery) is a self-taught visual artist and fashion illustrator with a university background in textiles and artisanal methods. For her, the jaunty shapes on SPINE 7’s cover are not only delightfully simple; they are deliberate, meant to mean.
When Julia Fierro isn't writing the next big thing, her brain chews on the next big thing, spitting out bits and bobs that Fierro saves until she has a towering pile.
"Sometimes I'll write what I hope will be a first chapter, but I send myself notes most days," she told Spine. "It might be one line. Last night at two in the morning, I'm struggling for my phone in the dark."
New York Timesbestselling author Julie Cantrell grew up in what she describes as a “rural, blue-collar Louisiana town,” where the possibility of becoming a novelist was “as far-fetched as becoming the Queen of England.”
Cantrell, who from a very young age had relied on writing as a way to process the world around her, found herself nevertheless convinced she would be wasting her scholarship if she chose to study the craft professionally. A high school English teacher told her to pursue something less wasteful.
Mark Swan is a designer for Kid-ethic, a studio specializing in print design for the publishing and film industries. Here he answers a few of our questions about his average work day, previous book cover creations, and he believes makes a great book cover.
Since he can remember, sociologist and bibliophile Clayton Childress has been enchanted by process rather than product. That is, he has always loved to learn how things are made. “In elementary school the first thing I ever spent my own money on was an Entertainment Weekly subscription—this was back when EW was doing profiles on producers, screenwriters, etc., and covering entertainment business news.”
Matt Johnson is a London based book cover designer. Among the works in his portfolio is the incredible jacket for Rachel Khong's Goodbye, Vitamin published byScribner UK. Here he shares for us his artwork and process, along with the original concepts developed by the creative team.
Maria Elias is an inventive and thoughtful designer. She has received accolades and mentions from AIGA, Design Observer’s 50 Books/50 Covers of 2015, and Type Director’s Club Communication Design for her work on the book Convictions.
Here she digs into her process for us and gives us some thoughts on the world of design.
Emma Ewbank is a senior designer for Bloomsbury. Her portfolio features many notable works including the design for Tor Udall's A Thousand Paper Birds. Here Ewbank describes for Spine what when into creating this remarkable cover.
Jim Tierney is an acclaimed book designer where his love of books and images is abundantly clear in everything he does. In 2011, he was awarded a New Visual Artist award and in in 2016, he won a Regional Design Award for Amy Stewart’s Girl Waits With Gun,published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Michaela Sullivan: Creative Director, Brian Moore: Art Director, Jim Tierney: Designer/Illustrator). Spine recently caught up with Mr. Tierney to discuss a few items about his practice.
Sara Mulvanny is a freelance illustrator based in North Hampshire, England. Her illustrations and hand-drawn typographic elements are reminiscent of the beautiful Art Deco style. Mulvanny has worked with Random House, Harper Collins and Sinsbury’s Magazine since 2010. We caught up with her to find out how she came into the industry, her typical creative process, and her creative contributions for Summer at Hope Meadows and Chasing the Dram: Finding the Spirit of Whisky.
Suzanne Dean is the Creative Director at Vintage Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House UK. She is one of the world's leading book cover designers and is the creative vision behind designs such as The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes and the UK editions of the works of Haruki Murakami, among many others. Holly Dunn caught up with her at her Penguin Random House office in London for Spine.
Cornerstone’s Junior Designer Lauren Wakefield believes that each creative brief varies considerably. While a design team may look at many different approaches until a final treatment is agreed upon, the concept for Wakefield’s cover design for Tom Hanks’ Uncommon Type came to her instantly.
Imagine designer Daniel Benneworth-Gray, head down, tucked into a small, neat alcove. An iMac rests on the big desk, some sheets of good off-white paper and a very black pen off to the side. Here Benneworth-Gray sits, day in and out, churning out massive amounts of work: book covers for every press you've ever heard of, articles on work-life balance for Creative Review, and Meanwhile, his weekly design-news digest.
Art Director Karen Horton has over a decade's worth of experience within the publishing industry. Currently at Henry Holt & Company, she's also produced creative work for publishers such as St. Martin’s Press, Oxford University Press, Little, Brown, and Company, and Flatiron Books. Here she answers a few questions about her experience, influences, process, and her own venture in developing an online design community.
Men avoiding you? Getting axed by your employer? Married friends driving you crazy? Polly has the advice you need! Rather, Heather Havrilesky does. Offering insightful help for readers since 2001, Havrilesky currently writes her popular column Ask Polly for New York Magazine. Her book based on the column, How to Be a Person in the World, will be available in paperback Later this month. Havrilesky spoke with Spine about the book, her long and varied history as a writer, and gave us advice for surviving a career as an artist.
Kristen Radtke is a writer. Also, she's an illustrator and she designs book covers. Plus, she works as a film and video editor. And she's the managing editor of Sarabande Publishing.
Radtke created the graphic novel Imagine Wanting Only This, described by the New York Times as "a story of the young writer's growing fascination with ruins and abandoned places, as she attempts to come to terms with death." The review continues on to call Radtke "a superhuman of illustration, a grandmaster." But even superhumans have to put pen to paper, have to start with a speck of a concept and grow it and grow.
The Girl Guide is a fantastic new book about puberty and growing up, infused with feminism and fun. Holly Dunn spoke to creators Marawa Ibrahim and Sinem Erkas about the process of developing this colourful book.
Joan Wong has designed covers for a variety of publishers over her career including Alfred A. Knopf, Farrar Straus and Giroux, New Directions, Simon and Schuster, Harper Collins. She currently creates for Vintage and Anchor Books of Penguin Random House. Here Wong joins with us to discuss how she got her start in the industry, her process for designing, and her favorite cover that she developed.