Friday, 24 August 2012

Book Cover Design for Dummies

Hello everyone! Remember me?

I've been absent from the blogging world for a week or two and I'm sure you have all been racked with anxiety over my disappearance (ahem). But fear not, dear reader, I am safe and well. I have merely been off enjoying the final few weeks of my last ever student-length summer holiday which has flown in even quicker than usual with the prospect of The Real World looming ahead of me at the other end! I have been on countless adventures, but there is one in particular that I wanted to tell you about.

Last week The Boyfriend and I journeyed to Edinburgh to explore the city that I am soon to call home (2 weeks tomorrow, yikes!). Edinburgh is a beautiful city and has always held a special place in my heart and it was great to take the time to remind myself of all the reasons I adore Edinburgh and discover a few new ones at the same time. My excitement about moving there has increased tenfold since our trip. Summer decided to visit Scotland that day and we were blessed with warm sunshine and not a drop of rain - although I have to admit, I love Edinburgh best on overcast days. There's something about a steely grey sky and rolling dark clouds that really sets off the dramatic splendour of the castle on the rock. We rifled through the vintage shops on Cockburn Street and tried to resist the temptation to invest in ridiculous paisley pattern silk shirts; we strolled up the Royal Mile enjoying the street performances and all the spectacles of the Fringe festival; we behaved like five-year-olds in the Camera Obscura, giggling as the Morph Machine merged our faces together and transformed us into old people, apes and babies; we gorged ourselves in the Hard Rock Cafe; and we explored the tents of the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The Book Festival was the motivation behind our trip. We had tickets to see Jon Gray and Jamie Keenan discussing their theories of book cover design in the Peppers Theatre tent. Cover design is one of the aspects of publishing which interest me the most and Jon and Jamie are breathtakingly talented artists. They discussed  the 20 theories of cover design which they employ to attract readers to books whilst demonstrating with a slideshow of examples of their own work. Unfortunately the tent the presentation was held in was swelteringly warm and Jon and Jamie were limited by a strict schedule which forced them to rush through many of their points, but their talk was informative, humorous and enjoyable nonetheless. It may sound strange, but it actually never occurred to me before when admiring the images on my favourite book covers that the designer may have actually created the objects captured in those images him/herself. I found it particularly interesting to hear Jon and Jamie's stories of not only the idea that sparked a cover design but the process of making it a reality: for example, for the cover of Bright Shiny Morning by James Fray, Gray actually had his handwriting made into the lights we see on the book cover. There is an article on the Guardian website which explains each of Gray and Keenan's 20 theories of book cover design in a far more concise way than I ever could, so for anyone who is interested you can find that here.  I am simply going to show you some of my favourite book covers by Jon and Jamie, because in spite of all the theory behind them, I think they speak for themselves.




 Can you work out which of the 20 theories Jon and Jamie used to create each of these covers?

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