Is it difficult to keep everybody happy?
It certainly can be! I believe that if you are working with a great editor and author, who trust you and like your work, you are half way there to a good cover. I try to reflect the essence of the book in my designs. An important part of my job as a book jacket designer is thinking about the first impression a cover makes. Book covers can be a visual foreword for the book. The cover needs to catch the eye, engage the potential reader and get them to pick the book up. (It is said you only have a couple of seconds to catch a browser’s eye as they move through a bookshop.) The design has to do this in a unique, creative and striking way on a single page. It is partly this format restriction that makes cover design so interesting.
Have you worked on any controversial designs?
Nothing I have worked on has been banned...
Which designers/book covers do you most admire?
Paul Rand, Alvin Lustig, Saul Bass and Karel Capek are my favourite designers from the last century. They all worked during the fifties and sixties and their work still seems fresh and groundbreaking today. I am hugely inspired by them. With regards to contemporary designers, I also admire the work of Jon Gray, Kelly Blair, Rodrigo Corral, Coralie Bickford-Smith, Peter Mendelsund...I could go on, there are so many fabulous designers out there.
Can you describe your workspace?
My studio is a culmination of many years and many projects. The shelves are crammed full of books punctuated by random objects that have been used on covers; an old typewriter, antique tins and wooden letters. The latest mood board covers the wall. Next to my Mac, I have a collection of paints, inks and brushes. I often paint covers in the office.
How was the process of designing the new series of Vintage minis?
Everybody in the design studio (eight designers in total) worked together on the Vintage Minis. A group project like this only comes along once a year, and it’s something we all enjoy.
A series offers different design opportunities and problems. Each title needs to be treated individually, but at the same time the title needs to unify within the series look. The playfulness of the Minis design allowed a great freedom. I particularly like the way the frame is used with the abstract imagery. We have also had the opportunity to design a Vintage Minis window for Foyles Bookshop in London.
Have you designed any of the titles in our TOAST Book Club?
I personally worked on The Only Story and The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock. I spent quite a bit of last year working on them. I am pleased with the end results. I think the online Book Club is brilliant. I love to have new recommendations and to read interviews with the authors. I am not part of a book club, mostly due to the fact that I am always reading a manuscript…