Sian Wilson, the Process for Designing This Love

Sian Wilson is a Senior Designer at Simon & Schuster UK. Among her works is the cover design for Dani Atkin's This Love. Wilson answered questions for Spine about her process in developing the piece. 

Can you walk us through how this cover went from conception to finished product?

Occasionally, when the cover brief is quite open, the whole design team will work on it, in order to come up with the broadest range of ideas possible. We read a brief synopsis then sat down with the editor and quizzed her about the book – what she most liked about it, some key themes, pivotal scenes, market comps etc. I think we were all taken with the imagery from an early scene in the story, where the heroine Sophie is trapped in a burning building (before being rescued by a handsome stranger of course) It also seemed to be a good metaphor for the main themes in the book: how Sophie feels trapped in her life, full of grief and fear. Our aim for the cover was to push the women’s fiction mould a little, without looking out of place in a commercial market. We worked individually for a couple of weeks and shared the best of our ideas with the wider team.

Often we’ll already have a shout line to help tie the cover idea together, but it can also work the other way, and the process of designing might inspire us to create one ourselves – It usually requires a little editorial fine-tuning, but it’s fun to have a go.  The ones that went down best managed to communicate some of the intensity of the story, but also just looked intriguing. Trying to hint at the content rather than giving away too much, or overcrowding the cover seemed to be key. The idea of the house cocooned in the flames was liked, but was much more successful once I tried it in a different, punchier colourway.  

I tried some slightly different type options, but the original hand drawn font seemed to have the most energy. And this was chosen for the cover. 


Tell us about the technical process behind it? What made you decide to use those particular colours?

Using illustrator, I drew around stock images of houses and flames to get the shapes I needed, then put it together in photoshop. I wanted to keep it fairly bold and graphic, but added a texture effect to soften it a little. It was all starting to feel a little muddy, so I ramped up the saturation to make it pop.

I tried a few couple of colourways but the dark blue felt the most striking and complimented the orangey reds of the flames, while also fitting the general mood of the book. 

The final cover looks amazing. Thank you so much for sharing with us, Sian!

Design Editor, Painter, Designer, Lifelong bibliophile.


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