Matt Johnson is an Art Director at Simon & Schuster UK. Among the designs in his portfolio is the incredible jacket for Rachel Khong's Goodbye, Vitamin. Here Johnson shares for us his design and process for the cover, along with the original concepts developed by the creative team.
This cover design took quite a bit of getting to! The story revolves around Ruth, a young professional who is persuaded to return home to look after her father who has been diagnosed with Alzheimers. It’s wry and poignant book, packed full of great visual references.
As we often do in our department a few of us worked on the initial concepts before we settled on my approach. As you can see from some of the earlier visuals we had quite a bit to play with; goldfish, bananas, broccoli and jellyfish all feature in the book. In some ways it almost felt like there was too much choice. I spent far too long drawing a goldfish only for it never to be used.
This collaborative approach throws up a variety of different styles and treatments. There was quite a range to present to Editorial. I find this method particularly useful when there’s no clear direction as to the approach and the pressure is on to get a visual approved. The guys clearly had a lot of fun with these ideas; we could have gone in a variety of directions all of which would’ve made strong book covers.
These last visuals show the development to the final cover design. Initially, I tried to cram as many things on the cover as possible before stripping it all back and arriving at the single banana motif. In the end it seemed like the obvious choice. It just felt right, confident with the right level of humour. Balancing the hand drawn type with the banana illustration was the trickiest part. I had a lot of fun working on this jacket and I hope that comes across in the final design.
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Design Editor, Painter, Designer, Lifelong bibliophile.