Jenna Stempel on Designing the Cover for Girls in the Moon

Editor's Note: The following is part two of a two part series on the making of Girls in the Moon, published by HarperCollins. Here designer Jenna Stempel discusses her process for the creation of the cover for the book.

Part one of the series is a conversation with the book's author, Janet McNally.

How did you go about creating the cover for Girls in the Moon?

My initial inclinations were to take a bunch of stabs at music video imagery and gig posters. Those indie rock bands show off an impeccably curated lifestyle of leaning against graffitied buildings in their threadbare t-shirts and watching the sun set on roofs in Brooklyn. I tried to capture that same romanticized city life on the cover. We printed the jacket with three flat colors (cream, black, and purple) to simulate the production of a traditional screen-print.


What is the significance of the imagery in the piece?

While the cover definitely had to have music and Brooklyn and sisters to give a sense of the plot, it was important to me to visualize the memorable tone and all the great bands that are mentioned. Janet McNally practically plucked a fantasy story straight out of my high-school day dreams, and I really connected with the specific indie rock aesthetic. The final cover started out with an actual moon, but in further revisions it became less literal as a double exposure image of a microphone. I'm happy we got a musical element on there in the end.

Janet McNally practically plucked a fantasy story straight out of my high-school day dreams…

We’ve seen that this cover has gone through at least one other iteration in development. How many different concepts did you have altogether?

There were at least 8 unique comps before I started iterating! I usually try to cast a wide net in the beginning in terms of photography, illustration, and typographic solutions, but this book felt so realized that the range stylistically was narrower. I was looking at a lot of old Ray Gun covers and Sonic Youth albums and more contemporary poster design.

I love visual research, and it helps me push myself to make more comps. Usually my first few are stale or boring or ugly!

We respectfully disagree.