Here is my idea for the package coming to life. I drew the word “spring” in my sketchbook and then took a photo and brought it into Illustrator where I did an image trace and made it into a vector. I used the Wacom pen to fill in some areas and to smooth some lines. I have photographs of a series of watercolor paintings I did over the summer and I thought they would work for this project! I spent some time using Photoshop to cut out different flowers from a few of the paintings. I began collaging them on illustrator behind the “spring fresh” text. I was originally only going to use pink flowers but I was liking the way the pink text looked against the green flowers. I wasn’t sure if these flowers were working for this design because they’re pretty bright; I had pictured using a softer theme. However, as noted in the grocery store, many of the laundry products use bright colors in their packaging, so it may be working. I may make some different paintings and try to use less flowers to make the design a little more minimal and see how that works.
I just finished watching Peter Mendelsund’s Skillshare course, Read, Think, Design: Creating Stunning Book Covers. This course was awesome. It was easier for me to focus on than the previous Skillshare video.
In the first section of the course, Peter Mendelsund suggests looking at other artist’s designs. He says to pick out those that you like and designs that you don’t like and ask yourself, “why? or why not?” The next step is to imitate these designs to see that you can make them yourself. This is so important. I like to go on Pinterest when I’m working on a project and get ideas from others who have worked on the same type of project. We do this a lot too with the blogs and websites Kathy provides for us on blackboard to see other artists’ work and learn about what’s out there.
Before starting the actual book cover, we need to identify our goals. Peter Mendelsund says the three goals in book cover design are:
- The cover has to represent the author’s work.
- It has to sell the book.
- It needs to be new.
He suggests trying different mediums because that can be a way for you to stretch yourself as an artist. In this section he explained a little bit of how his process works and showed us some of his book cover designs.
“A title for an author is like what a book jacket is for a designer.”
Peter Mendelsund reads through the poem with us and underlines the important parts. He picks out the three component parts or the title: wondering, loneliness, & clouds. He emphasized that getting to the end of the novel is important because the ending is always very significant and impacts your takeaway from the book.
Every text tells a story and we must:
- Understand the story at face value.
- Discern the underlying meaning.
He also brought up TI sheets, which he says contains the summary of the novel, previous sales history, marketing notes, the target audience, and that sort of thing. This was pretty cool because I hadn’t really thought about or heard of that before.
Mendelsund goes through and sketches some thumbnails of potential book cover ideas. Will the cover use a photo, drawing, painting, collage, just words, or maybe something digital? These are all things to consider. Even sub-questions, like: will the photo be a stock photo, and where will I get it from? Or will I hire someone to do a photo shoot, or will I take the photos myself? He shows use some more of his cover designs and describes the medium he used for each cover.
“Your media choice should inform the way you feel about the cover.”
The last few sessions of the lesson were my favorites. In designing the cover, he brings up an important point. “The only limits are your imagination and financial boundaries.” It’s important to ask your client at the very beginning, “How much can we spend per book cover?” Different production techniques have different costs, so it’s important to consider price before the designing.
It was super cool to watch Peter Mendelsund create his ideas for the poem’s book cover. It was awesome to listen to him narrate his thoughts and visually watch his ideas come together on the screen. It was also crazy how quickly he made each of these ideas come to life, but it’s just something that comes with years of practice I’m sure. It was also fun to watch him collage the words and daffodils. I don’t collage often, but it looks like fun and like it can lead to some pretty cool images and ideas.
In the conclusion section of the lesson, Peter Mendelsund emphasized the fact that when he shows a client a book cover, he only shows them one. He doesn’t show them multiple because it’s likely that the client would like different parts of each cover and would ask you to combine the ideas into one cover, or ask for more examples. As the artist, Mendelsund feels that he knows his work and will choose the one that he feels best represents the novel. He also emphasizes that before showing your cover to your client, you should always have other people look at it first. This includes: other designers, readers who have read the novel before, or anyone else, like your mom or brother. That way you can get some final feedback from an outside source to see if anything should be changed.
This was a fun and informative lesson! I loved being able to see the way Peter Mendelsund’s process works and hearing his thoughts while creating.
View the lesson here.
I just finished reading Five Questions for Vintage Art Director/ Designer Megan Wilson in Under the Covers. Megan Wilson is an art director at Vintage/Random House. She was born in NY but grew up in England. For the past twenty years, she’s lived in New York City. Her specialty is literary classics. It seems that one of the reasons Megan Wilson likes working with classics, is because the artists aren’t around anymore to complain, give their own input, or for Megan to explain her ideas to. She says, “because of who the authors are, they require no explanation; no author of or prize winner lines and no quotes. No authors to complain or send in their own bits of art.” She likes to use fine art and old images to create her book designs but they still feel modern. Megan says, “there is no reason why classics should all be set up with an identical panel accompanied by a dark and deadly sombre painting.” A lot of times, when I think about classic novels, I tend to picture this image, of an old painting in a frame with a title. I appreciate that she breaks this stereotype when she designs her book covers.
Something I love about Megan Wilson’s designs, is that they have a vintage look but still feel modern. She often uses a vintage image or idea but pairs it with a modern text or a modern use of display. I especially love the cover for The Letters of Noel Coward. The text is beautiful and the way it forms the smoke cloud is fun and ties the title in with the image.
“I use fine art more than the average cover designer and that is probably because of Duncan and a love of art history at school. There is so much out there that is brilliant and totally forgotten or unknown; a goldmine if one knows where to find it.” This is pretty cool. I would’t think to look back at old works to create a modern image. I like that she refers to these paintings as a goldmine. A lot of us don’t use these types of images in our current designs, and we just might be missing out!
Here are two mood boards for my Fabric Softener Redesign. There are two different scents for Hannaford’s brand of fabric softener sheets, Spring Fresh and Mountain Fresh. the packaging is generic and sort of boring. My plan is to create a new, more elegant and pretty redesign of the product’s packaging. I want the customers to see it as different from the other items, a new look that will stand out and stick with them. My plan is to handletter the Spring Fresh and use a modern looking sans-serif for the other descriptive type on the box. I plan to use watercolor to paint flowers, that I will scan onto the computer and add to the design. I will paint a mountain scene for the Mountain Fresh box. The board shows the colors and feel I’m aiming for!
The last two images are the products that I am going to re-brand.
This is a poster I just finished making for Oneonta BASIC’s Monster Mash Dance that’s coming up next week! Last year, I created a flier with monster vectors, but this year I decided to go a more sophisticated route and chose this fall photo I had from last year. I lowered the exposure in the photo to give it more of a spooky feel. There’s no monster in the photo, but is there one hiding behind those corn stalks? Who knows! This was a quick and easy project, but I’m happy with the way it came out!
I just finished re-listening to Peter Mendelsund’s NPR interview: The Jacket Designer’s Challenge: To Capture A Book By Its Cover. I enjoyed listening to the interview. Peter Mendelsund seems very calm and very real. His voice and the way he explained his points made him seem very down to earth. He a great outlook on book design and some important points. He says that is you look at a cover and feel the same way as you did when you were reading the book, you have a successful cover. This is very interesting. I didn’t do this with my book covers, but I also didn’t have the chance to read the entire novels that I was designing the covers for. I would like to fully read at least one of the novels that I redesigned for and see if I do feel the same way in both instances.
Peter Mendelsund gave us an insight into his creative process by informing us that he creates about 100 trial covers for each novel he designs. That’s a lot of book covers! He said that some are very very similar and there may only be one small tweak from design to design. Still, that’s a lot of covers! He has created about 600 covers in his career so far. So doing the math accounting for 100 covers per book, that’s about 60,000 book covers in all, as the NPR interviewer pointed out. That’s amazing! At the time of the interview he was working on fifteen different book titles and one freelance project. He commented that he likes working on multiple projects at once because it helps the creative process.
When he shows his cover to a client, he only shows one of the many he creates. He chooses his favorite of the group. This is because if he shows them various designs they will most likely pick and choose what they like from each one and ask that those attributes be combines into a new cover. This is smart. I would probably show the client multiple works, but after hearing his take I might reconsider that idea.
It’s super cool that P.M. gets to spend a great deal of time during his workday reading. Reading and enjoying reading is so important for his job! He says that when he reads outside of work for leisure, it’s hard to be analyzing the text and picking out visual emblems.
He points out that when we read, we don’t form a concise picture of the characters in the novel we are reading. He also states that the idea that reading a book is like watching a movie in your head is false. This is because, we are not picturing the author’s world; we don’t see the story in the same way that he did. We also rely a lot on our memories and experiences when we picture the story in our heads. We fill in bits and pieces to bring visual form to what we’re reading.
A great, quick interview, with some awesome insight!
The NPR interview with Peter Mendelsund, The Jacket Designer’s Challenge: To Capture A Book By Its Cover, can be found here.
Chipp Kidd has been designing book jackets for 25 years. He is the associate Art Director at Knopf, an imprint of Random House.
“A book designer gives form to content.”
What stood out to me the most in this talk was on of the first topics: Chipp warning book jacket designers not to take an image and describe it in words. His example: “Do not draw an image of an apple and below, place the word Apple.” You either say, “apple,” or you draw the apple, but you don’t do both. This is so important. I feel like this is something I might have done without thinking about it, but it’s clear to me why that is not necessary. Chipp has created book covers with no words on the cover. The Katherine Hepburn Story (left) is words and the Marlina Dietrick Biography book cover (right) is a picture.
“I want you to look at the author’s book and say, “wow, I need to read that.””
I thought his “Naked” book cover was really cool. The book is about a man who goes to a nudist colony. He went there because he feared his body image and he wanted to see what was underlying this fear. Chip Kid displayed a pair of shorts on the dust jacket and the actual book cover shows a person’s x-ray. The author goes to this place to overcome his body image fears and the source is inside himself.
Haruki Murakami is a novel about a single person straddling two planes of existence. This cover is sort of a combination of the Hepburn and Dietrich cover ideas. This cover is particularly beautiful.
I enjoyed watching Chipp Kidd’s TED talk. He’s very whimsical and has a great voice to listen to. I enjoyed some of his jokes, like when he was talking about reading a physical novel vs. reading from an iPad. He made the talk fun! His covers are beautiful and have an amazing amount of thought and concept behind them!
Chipp Kidd image found here.