Lauren Peters-Collaer is a graphic designer in New York City. Here she tells us how she came up with the cover for Feast Your Eyes by Myla Goldberg.
Feast Your Eyes by Myla Goldberg is an arresting and deeply compelling novel. It tells the story of Lillian Preston—a single mother and photographer searching for artistic recognition in 1950s New York City—and is formatted as if it were a catalogue of notes from a posthumous MoMA exhibition of her work. The “catalogue”, written largely in the voice of Lillian’s daughter Samantha, describes her mother’s life, including a show at a small gallery early in Lillian’s career where a display of partially nude photos of a young Samantha leads to obscenity charges, Lillian’s arrest, and mother and daughter becoming a lightning rod for national scrutiny and scorn. I was mesmerized by Feast Your Eyes immediately so was simultaneously incredibly grateful to my art director, Jaya Miceli, for giving it to me, and terrified at the thought of not doing it visual justice.
Because the book is about a photographer, with the added complexity that it is formatted as a show catalogue, the reader comes away with a vivid and specific sense of Lilian’s work. I knew that any photography used on the cover would have to feel like Lillian’s, and with her oeuvre so clearly articulated throughout the course of the novel, a reader’s tolerance for anything slightly off would be minimal. So I started the design process with extensive photography research. Because Samantha is the subject of the catalytic photos, a significant portion of my research was dedicated to finding photos of young era-appropriate girls; preferably in urban settings, conveying some attitude or self-possession, and shot in a candid, street photography style
While using a photo seemed an inevitability given the novel’s content and format, I also wanted to explore ways to convey photography that weren’t necessarily contingent on showing a “Lillian Preston photo”. This came down to exploring an array of photography artifacts including cameras, contact sheets, negatives, frames, DIY dark rooms, and the MoMA itself. (I went on an investigative fieldtrip to the museum one day to see if I could gather inspiration from the space.)
I also explored visuals surrounding media attention reminiscent of the mid to late 1900s, creating bits of tabloid and news to build into the comps.
All of these elements were swirling around my thoughts and comps, but none of the previous work was feeling exactly right. I think Jaya could tell that I was feeling stuck, so she suggested shaking up my process. I left my office and walked downstairs to the closest newsstand to buy a paper. I started cutting up the Arts Section, not thinking too specifically about my intent at first. I began putting pieces together and noticed that some of them looked like camera parts. Suddenly, things started to click in my imagination. This led me to assemble the small newspaper camera that came to form the foundation for the cover.
From there, I digitized the piece, refined it, and worked in a photo. We went through numerous photo and type iterations to make sure all the elements worked together smoothly, and finally settled on the version that wraps the book today.
Design Editor, Painter, Designer, Lifelong bibliophile.