• Olly Jordan

Chapter 44 - Once Upon a Dream - Book Cover Design Research - Uni 3rd Year 2017/18

‘A career in book cover design James Nunn

Getting into book cover design "I planned at school to go to art school, but decided to do English instead in order to avoid another year doing a foundation degree in my hometown! So I did an English Lit degree and an MA in Contemporary Poetry in Manchester. "I was a bookseller in Manchester. I then worked as a marketing monkey with very basic design responsibilities at The Harvill Press. "Being self-taught I relied hugely on books and other designers’ advice." "I’m self-taught in design and illustration. I have no formal training, apart from 10 weeks of a course in Photoshop and Quark at the London College of Printing (LCP). "The course at LCP was invaluable, even though I couldn’t spare the time to finish it. Being self-taught I relied hugely on books and other designers’ advice. "It was a circuitous route to a life in design. I think I have developed very slowly over time because I’ve always been feeling my way. "But I was very lucky early on. A lot of publishers put me in a position to learn by my mistakes with their books!" 3 tips for designing book covers 1. Be a reader "Love books, you won’t get rich so you may as well enjoy the end product. "Being a reader helps enormously in cover graphics. Often I come up with concepts that I could never have thought of without reading the book." 2. Bring energy and imagination "You need the ability to forget what you’ve done on a book and start again, as though you were coming to it fresh. "That way you can give the publisher what they’ve asked for and what they didn’t know they wanted until they saw it." 3. Keep it simple "Among all the work you show make sure there are some very simple striking images with just one idea. The best book covers just have one idea that hits you right between the eyes. "I see so much over-complicated design from design students. Keep it simple." A career in book cover design "It’s nice to be able look back on a project and think how well the cover fits with the book. "You need to forget what you’ve done on a book and start again, as though you were coming to it fresh." "If the book is successful, then it’s nice to think the cover played a part – but it’s only the cover, what’s inside has to be pretty good too. Not to mention all the work of the other people in sales and publicity, etc. "I hope that my covers do justice to good books, but you can’t be proud. There’s always another one on the drawing board that needs attention.’ https://ccskills.org.uk/careers/advice/article/a-career-in-book-cover-design

After reading these 3 tips from James Nunn, I am not really sure that book cover design would be for me. I am not massively into reading, it just happened to be that this book was something that I found interesting and wanted to illustrate a cover for. I mean I was probably interested in the book to be begin with because it was an alternate and darker twist on a film, so it’s not like I am unfamiliar with the characters or story. This book also gave me instant ideas as to how my painterly style would suit the book just as much as it could suit and expand my portfolio.


I also think that I would like to try and remember Nunn’s third tip of keeping it simple. It is easy to overcomplicate this kind of idea that I currently have. I am currently thinking that I would like to have a portrait of someone who I would cast as Aurora to be painted in the middle, then some of the magic elements that appear before her in the book to be a part of the portrait too, so a rabbit, bluebird feather, and some playing cards. However, this idea could get quite out of control by including a castle in the background as well as the suggestion of the 3 fairies in their smaller forms like ‘will-o wisps’, and a spinning wheel. This is all things I will thumbnail and experiment with later on down the line. I planned for all of this will be in the style of Dimitra Milan. The dream-like style and abstraction could work nicely to help convey the idea of a dream, or it could look like a mess. But again, that is for later on in the design process as I am currently just at the research stage. As Nunn said though, I will try to keep my concept simple by just focusing on conveying the idea that Aurora is trapped in a dream, so the cover image could for example, just have Aurora with some abstract mark making around her which provide distortion. ‘Work Environment In order to create the best and most compelling book cover, a book cover artist should first have an excellent idea regarding the contents and tone of the book. To do this, the artist will often need to read the book, or at least read a detailed synopsis. In some cases, a book cover artist might also confer with the publisher or author of the book as well. This allows the artist to design and create a cover that coincides with the author’s visions for his work. A book cover artist will then usually develop a few ideas for how the cover could look. These ideas are usually run by the publisher or author, who will them choose one. After a cover concept has been chosen, a book cover artist will then get to work creating the cover. As mentioned above, the artist will usually use images, including graphics and photographs for the front cover, and possibly the back cover and spine as well. He will also need to choose a font for the title of the book and the author’s name. Once the elements of a book cover have been chosen, an artist will then arrange and assemble them into the perfect layout. This usually requires the use of advanced computer software, including imaging software and design software. While creating the cover, however, an artist should also leave room on the back cover for a synopsis of the book and a short biography of the author. Salary The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not record salary data specifically for book cover artists. It does, however, record data for artists in related fields. For example, graphic designers made, on average, about $48,140 in 2010. The average annual salary for desktop publishers in 2010 was around $39,060. Job Outlook The majority of book over artists work as freelancer, meaning that they don’t necessarily work with one particular company. Instead, they're free to pick and choose who they work with. Book cover artists, for example, may find themselves working directly with self-published artists one month. The next month, however, they might be commissioned to create book covers for publishing companies. Many publishing companies though, will usually have at least one book cover artist on staff,' https://www.theartcareerproject.com/careers/book-cover-illustration/ It was quite good to hear that in book cover design, there is still a strong emphasis that the designer should keep the author involved in the design process to help illustrate what they have always wanted to see. That makes book cover design seem a lot more human, I always thought that maybe the designer would just go off and do their own thing and press print without keeping the author in the loop that much. This kind of work would suit me because I will most likely work freelance, but I think it would purely depend on the book itself and whether I instantly connect with it and the author or not, those are clearly the two most important things.

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