Curious Minds Podcast S2: Yes, Judge a Book by Its Cover
Learn how a book cover gets made, why certain trends happen, and how one piece of art can support another…
Curious Minds is an original podcast by Domestika that explores the curiosities and untold histories of the creative world. Every two weeks, we interview renowned creatives to discover the strange and fascinating stories behind different topics: like why stop motion endures in the digital age, or why we doodle.
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There’s a lesson we all get taught as children: don’t judge a book by its cover. And it’s an important one to learn when it comes to people…but what about actual books? Aren't they designed specifically to be judged?
Book covers navigate the difficult space of being a commercial sales tactic and a work of art…that also represents another work of art! This complexity means that cover designers need to be creative thinkers. Not just someone who can create beautiful imagery, but someone who can turn a hundred-thousand words or so into a single image that makes readers buy the book.
This week on Domestika’s Curious Minds podcast, we talk to four designers and critics about the whats, whys, and hows of book cover design. Learn about the tension between the designer’s vision and that of the publisher. Discover the collaborative (and often complicated!) process that can take from one to six months. And celebrate the amazing fact that a book cover is a tiny piece of art you can take home with you...
Click on the link below to listen and subscribe on Spotify. Alternatively, you can find the episode on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Season 2, Episode 2: Yes, Judge a Book by Its Cover
We are delighted to welcome four inspiring guests in this episode. Veteran designer Chip Kidd (@chip_kidd) discusses the interesting tension of one piece of artwork being “in service” to another, where that second artwork (i.e. the writing) gets higher precedence. And yet, a good cover design can become iconic in its own right, which Chip well knows, being the designer of the cover for Michel Crichton’s Jurassic Park. Chip shares valuable insights from his long career, and insists that the thrill of book cover design is always ongoing: every new story affords him the privilege of exploring fresh ideas.
James Morrison is known on Twitter as the Caustic Cover Critic, and has a library of fascinating book cover trends (often made from the exact same images) which he shares with his followers. He remarks on the difficulty of creating a visual identity for a work that has no assets you can bounce off (as you would when designing a film poster, for example). But once more, he points out that a great cover can stand on its own as a piece of art.
Lisa Perrin (@perrin), an illustrator and hand lettering artist, similarly celebrates the amazing act of bringing a small piece of art into people’s homes and lives. She also considers the balance of the publisher’s marketing needs (and readers!), against the desire to leave your own unique stamp on the work.
Dominique Jones is a book designer at Penguin Random House, and gives insight from the publishing perspective. Noting the essential skill of reading a book to uncover its core message, she also outlines the wider team’s process and how perspectives are shared. To broaden these perspectives, Dominique created a community called Blk + Brwn Book Designers, which showcases and connects under-represented creators to opportunities in the publishing world.
In an era of e-books and quick access to reading online, book covers are arguably getting more and more important. A physical book is now an art object, and one that deserves to be treated with care. After all, a favorite cover may well end up displayed with pride on a reader’s bookshelf, reminding them of their love for the book every day.
Listen and subscribe to the Curious Minds podcast
Remember, to stay up to date with every episode, you can subscribe to Curious Minds for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.
If you'd like to discover more stories behind curiosities of the creative world we often take for granted, explore all the episodes from Curious Minds on our blog.
You may also like:
- 5 Interesting Facts About Books
- 5 Beautifully Illustrated Children's Books We Love
- Editorial Design: How a Book is Made, course by Enric Jardí
- Book Cover Design: Illustrate Stories with Evocative Images, course by Owen Gent
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