Q & A with Designer Aurora Parlagreco

Aurora Parlagreco is a designer at HarperCollins Children's Books in New York City. Among her works are the covers for Dumplin', new release The Silver Gate, and soon-to-be-released Ramona Blue. Parlagreco was kind enough to answer a few questions for Spine.

Can you give us a little bit of your background? How did you come to be a book cover designer?

I’ve always loved to read and draw, so working in publishing seemed like a natural fit (as well as a dream come true). I got my BFA in Communication Design from Carnegie Mellon University, along with minors in Photography and English. I knew that I wanted to work in print design, and was lucky enough to intern in the Children's Design group at HarperCollins before starting full time after graduation.

What was your process for developing the cover of Dumplin’?

I loved Dumplin' as soon as I read it and wanted to make sure that the cover was treated with the same sincere and confident voice that Julie Murphy used in writing it. It was a challenge because there was so much that could be pulled from the story- a great problem to have! I explored a variety of imagery and approaches (typographic, photographic, illustrated) but nothing felt quite right. Ultimately, I knew that we needed to embrace the opportunity to show Willowdean on the cover as it really is her story. We chose Daniel Stolle to execute this idea after seeing some really fun and empowering samples he had of full-figured women. He was able to communicate a lot of emotion with simple shapes and colors, and I kept the rest of the design clean and minimal so that the illustration remains the focus.

Much of your work is intended to be viewed by children. What are unique challenges in designing for this audience?

I think children's books are special because they often communicate big, complicated ideas in the simplest way. The challenge in designing covers for these books is similar in that you want to create something relatable but also aspirational; something that is age-appropriate but also speaks to who readers want to be. I love being able to create covers for a range of ages and genres because I have the opportunity to work with many different artists and there is always room for experimentation.

I love being able to work on books (and covers!) that people connect to.
— Aurora Parlagreco

What project has been the most rewarding to date?

It's hard to choose just one! It's always rewarding to see something you put a lot of time and care into out in the world. Some of my favorite experiences include working on Dumplin', because it's message seemed to resonate with so many people, and seeing an 8-year old's review for The Poet's Dog taped to a bookstore shelf. I love being able to work on books (and covers!) that people connect to.