Excuses, Excuses

15 May 2012

This post could easily be titled ‘I hate designing book covers’. As a designer who works mainly with text, I sometimes feel like a fish out of water when it comes to designing a cover for the book. I have been known to avoid social contact, procrastinate, clean my kitchen over and over again – all in the attempt to avoid designing a cover for a book I have just designed the inside pages for. I’ve also been known to toil laboriously over covers, spamming the publisher with draft design after draft design.

As noted in the Telegraph, there is an expectation for book designers to be the ‘ultimate hidden persuaders’. Whilst I feel the natural inclination to create a book, I think the task of selling a book requires an entirely different kind of thinking. This is probably why books are often designed by two designers – a text or interior designer and a cover or jacket designer. The role of the former is to create a private space whilst the role of the latter is to communicate in a very public space. However, small independent publishing houses such as Tara Books don’t have this luxury of employing two designers for a single book.

I’ve been working for over 10 years now with Tara Books and the design of a cover has become a sort of running joke between the publisher Gita Wolf and myself. The cover for Excuses, Excuses by Anushka Ravishankar and Gabrielle Manglou was a pleasant surprise. It happened to fall into place in the very first draft. On reflection I think I was more at ease because the narrative and art in the book is so multi-faceted. With books that have a more singular narrative, I find it harder to capture the essence in a way that sells it successfully to the intended reader.

Front cover of Excuses, Excuses

Back cover of Excuses, Excuses

The blurb on Excuses, Excuses invites the reader: ‘Meet Neel, who has the noblest of intentions, all of which have a strange way of going wrong … ‘Excuses, Excuses‘ captures the gleeful childhood dilemma of knowing the importance of rules, but delighting in breaking them.’

I’m afraid that as a book cover designer, I am a bit like Neel.

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