Rafi Romaya, Inspiration And 'Strange New Things'

Rafi Romaya is an Art Director for Scottish publisher, Canongate Books. Her portfolio includes the creation of covers for author Michel Faber in collaboration with illustrator Yehrin Tong. Here she shares her thoughts on inspiration, along with the work she is most proud.

What was your path to becoming an Art Director for Canongate Books?

After graduating in Design I was lucky enough to get my first job at Faber and Faber before going to Pan Macmillan as Senior Designer then Creative Head at Simon and Schuster, and most recently joining Canongate as Art Director.


Where do you look for inspiration?

Inspiration can be found everywhere, often where you least expect it. In a practical sense, I head a small team at Canongate with Pete Adlington and Christopher Gale, and we all aim to inspire each other. When I receive a manuscript, I often take my imaginative cue from a line or paragraph that gives me a way in. It’s my job to visually interpret a detail or element that gives an essence of the story but also reflects the tone and texture of the writing, as well as the author and the publisher – all with the reader in mind.

Is there an element of creating covers that you enjoy working with most? Why?

I really enjoy the formative stage, when I’m shaping concepts and investigating the myriad ways they might be executed. If things are going well, it’s a rich phase that feels full of possibilities, and has that anything-might-happen air about it.


What project are you most proud? How did your vision come to fruition?

It changes all the time but if I have to choose just one: the series of Michel Faber covers I’ve created with illustrator Yehrin Tong. It’s been such a great collaboration, and winning a V&A illustration award for The Book of Strange New Things was amazing. I spent a lot of time working on the concept and design and Yehrin completely shared my vision and created something sublime.

We’re working on another Michel Faber cover together at the moment which is exciting as we try to build and push ourselves in new ways each time, especially as all of his books are so different in tone and genre.