We welcome you to another in our ongoing feature in which notable book cover designer Jordan Wannemacher periodically highlights a selection of recent university press cover designs. Please enjoy this celebration of amazing work.
This list is in no particular order. Credits are listed below.
If you are a book cover creative and want your work or the work of your department reviewed by Jordan be sure to get in touch with us!
As with any cover design we feature in our publications, we encourage you to head to your local library and/or bookstore to view the work in its full splendor when possible.
Since July is a quiet pub month, I wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate an oft-overlooked area of UP Design: Series Designs. Series designs are a challenge to design; they require forethought to fit a wide variety of titles and the designer has to consider a package that can be replicated indefinitely without duplicating previous colors/symbols or breaking the pattern in a way that divorces the design from the rest of the series. Take a look at six examples of designers who really hit the mark on this challenge to produce beautifully memorable series designs.
Columbia University Press
"Russian Library" Series
Designer: Roberto de Vicq de Cumpitch
I am absolutely in love with this series design. Not only do I love seeing how University Presses design their often rare fiction titles, but this design also approaches the challenge of designing a series made up of so many different categories of books with only a country of origin in common. How do you handle poetry, novels, memoirs, creative nonfiction, and plays in their own unique ways while still retaining uniformity? The different illustrated symbols collaged together on each cover are so compelling and give us the perfect little window into each book.
University of Nebraska Press
Designer: Nathan Putens
The bold colorful patterns of this series remind me of my favorite trade series design, "The Art of the Novella" by Melville House. They are each color-coded with unique geometric figurations that leave room for endless variations for such a large and expansive series. The designer says "Nebraska has several series designs for covers and inevitably something comes along and breaks the template (which is fine since many are meant to be broken), but so far 'Provocations' has been one that works and I enjoy and look forward to building these patterns."
Oxford University Press
"World's Classics Hardback Collection"
Designer: Scott Greenway
My vertical type envy is strong on this series design! Getting this kind of cover typography approved on a cover design was something I thought impossible, yet Oxford has created an entire series from this dynamic configuration. I love the simplicity of these famous novels, having been part of the literary canon for so long, all you need is two colors and a graphic symbol and these covers are complete. I especially love the unusual color choices, like the teal-green of the Fairy Tales series.
Princeton University Press
"Henry Spearmen Mystery" series
Designer: Chris Ferrante
Art Director: Maria Lindenfeldar
Speaking of beautiful 2-color designs, I love these graphic Saul Bass inspired covers for this series of mystery novels. Again, it's unusual for many UP's to publish fiction, but this gorgeous series is written by two University economics professors. The gritty texture and jagged lines add an air of edginess without feeling cliche. I also love the economy of the illustrations paired with the contrasting typeface choices.
University of Georgia Press
"Stories from the Flannery O’Connor Award" Series
Designer: Erin Kirk New
I feel like I need to give full disclosure: I am absolutely obsessed with Flannery O'Connor. Like, truly and passionately obsessed. Not only is she my favorite author, but I used to live in Georgia, and as a Southern Catholic I feel a deep spiritual connection to her. This also led to my obsession with peacocks as Flannery raised them in her backyard in Andalusia, Georgia. They became the subject of a famous essay "The King of the Birds" from her Mystery and Manners collection. All that said, I don't think I need to expound on why I love this series design so much. The peacock patterns are so perfectly Flannery and so perfectly of this period. They take center stage while the type is classic and simple. Absolutely lovely!
University of Texas Press
"Discovering America" Series
Designer: Derek George
Last but certainly not least is a series design that is also very close to my heart. When I was on my way to interview for my first University Press job, I killed time at a book store looking for a plane read and picked up Killer on the Road: Violence and the American Interstate since I've always been a bit of a true crime junkie. I honestly didn't know anything about University Presses and what they do coming from an art school without one. I realized looking at the spine "oh wow, THIS Is a University Press book, and it's BEAUTIFUL! I can make beautiful books at UP's!" It made me even more excited for my interview, and needless to say, I got the job. It's still one of my favorite cover designs on my bookshelf and always reminds me of that formative time in my design career. The thick lines of the illustrations paired with a handsome color palette make this a perfect Americana design.
Jordan Wannemacher is a book designer based in the NYC area. She was born and art school educated in the Southeast at the Savannah College of Art and Design where she focused on graphic design and creative writing. Currently, she is running Studio Jordan Wannemacher, a boutique book design studio based out of her home in Montclair, New Jersey.