Jack Smyth on Cuckoo

Jack Smyth on Cuckoo

Jack Smyth is a designer residing in London. His work includes the cover for Cuckoo, which Little, Brown Book Group published earlier this month. Contributor Vyki Hendy contacted Mr. Smyth about creating the image for the book. Here is his process in his own words.

The idea for the cover of Cuckoo was actually the first one I had, which is odd because my first ideas are usually pretty shite and get scrapped quite quickly. The brief described a good portion of the book where Jake (the protagonist) is kind of couch surfing and sleeping on floors while he's going through a bit of an identity/housing crisis. He's pretty young and vulnerable and essentially homeless, and I just pictured him sleeping on the floor and thought this could be a really striking, telling image. I did the worst sketch ever of the idea and went with it.

So I wanted a birds-eye-view photo of Jake lying on the floor, with some objects scattered around him, and thought it could work. I couldn't source any photos that would work to even mock it up, so I'd needed to do a shoot. The budget was quite tight so I called my mate Rebecca Naen who usually works on fashion / portrait photography, but she was really up for working on this with me. We decided to shoot in the front room of my house to save on expenses and rope in my housemate James (who somehow still looks 17 at 25) to be the model. So on a Sunday morning we cleared the furniture out of the living room and spent a few hours taking photos of James on the floor. We had loads of props – books, cameras, papers, blankets but in the end the shot of him on his own in the fetal position on the floor was simple, striking and uncluttered enough to work.

Becca sent over the shots and I just played around with the type for a while. The title is a bit of a gift, and I wanted to make the most out of it. I went for big, chunky, super-vibrant colours overlayed on the black and white picture just because it was striking and created a nice contrast over the quiet image. I finished it off with some handwriting for the shoutline just to give it more of a personal feel and to try to play off the fat, clean Futura of the title. It's a really simple cover, and a rare time when the first idea actually works out. It was also really cool to be able to work with 2 good friends to make a cover happen that might not have been doable otherwise.