What is the most challenging book cover commission you've worked on?
A book cover is an interesting problem. You have to be true to the content of the book, appeal to a reader, have your design live within the book’s category (literary fiction, memoir, big idea book, etc) while simultaneously have it stand out from this group, and as a designer, you want to make something that is new and interesting. Something that fascinates and appeals to you. The challenge is to do all of these things at once.
Often there are clear directions to avoid, but to find the right way forward you simply have to work your way through hundreds of options. One particularly tricky book for me was Kerry Egan’s On Living. Egan is a hospice chaplain and the book is a beautiful collection of essays on her experience. It’s hard to decide how to package a book about lessons learned from the dying and I went through many many rounds of ideas and iterations before landing on the direction of newly fallen green leaves.
Here, my excitement as a designer lies the details. While it may look like the image is digitally created, the type is actually printed on photos of leaves which are then cut, arranged, and re-photographed. This allows small moments where the leaves peel to give shadow and the light hits the background in different ways. These small artifacts of process lend the jacket a sense of reality and ultimately a human warmth.