Monday, 23 January 2012

New look

Coming your way in September...
  I'm getting a new look! Or at least my books are. To coincide with the release of Another Life, in September, the first two books in the series, When I Was Joe and Almost True are getting new covers to match.

The Egg of Death in Danny's fridge

Ty/Joe's brown/green eyes...
 The new look is bold, bright and eye-catching, the work of designer Arianna Osti, who also designed the cover for Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery. People have been asking me about the inspiration for the covers, so I put a few questions to Arianna.

  Tell us a bit about yourself and your career.

I was brought up with an artist in the family and a house full of books so it’s not surprising I chose a creative career.
After graduating from Camberwell College of Arts and training in a few design studios I started working at Frances Lincoln Publishers. I have always been interested in print design and I have a passion for typography so publishing feels like the perfect industry for me to be in.

What was the process of planning the new jackets? Did you have a completely free hand, or was there a discussion first about which direction to take? (NB The first I heard of the new covers was when they were all done and finished and my editor said 'I've got a surprise for you!')

In designing book covers there is usually a preliminary meeting with the Sales team to discuss the feel and the audience of a book. This is where we thought that, as we had a third book in the same series as When I Was Joe and Almost True, it would be good to launch the third title, Another Life, with a brand new look, re-jacketing the previous titles to boost the series. After the success of the cover
of Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery we thought it would be good to stick to a simple but bold cover style. So the direction to pursue was that of a striking graphic and typographic cover.

Did you come up with other ideas and then reject them?

I did come up with a few different ideas.
Ibarajo Road -  out August 2012
and sounds brilliant
It is quite unusual that the first design idea for a cover ends up being the final cover. It can happen, and it did happen for example with Ibarajo Road. However, generally you tend to come up with a few different ideas and then through discussions and meetings some of the ideas get rejected or approved. Some of the ideas I had seemed to work better on some titles rather than others, so they did get rejected, as the same design had to be applied to all three books in order for them to work as a series.

   How did you pick the colours?

The colours were partly dictated by the plot and by the graphic elements (eye, egg and knife) used on each of the books. The background colour came later, first it was Joe’s brown eyes, then the yellow of the egg yolk and the red of the bloody knife – all significant parts of the books. These were the obvious, realistic colours so for the background colours I had to try a combination that would work for each cover and then as a series of three.
The colours are there to create a mood and to help communicate the feel of the book so muted colours seemed to work best for a dark, edgy thriller series.

Saul Bass design
Someone mentioned the iconic cover for Catch-22 was that an inspiration? Others mentioned 1950s film posters and pulp fiction paperbacks. What were your influences?

I’m not sure the cover for Catch-22 ‘caught’ my eye as much as Saul Bass’ work.
Saul Bass again
He was a graphic-designer and filmmaker best know for his title sequences and film posters – so yes, in that respect 1950s film posters and typefaces have been an influence. I was also inspired by Agatha Christie’s paperback covers with hand-lettered type for the author’s name. But Saul Bass’ use of type and his concise, powerful and clever illustrations influenced me to create covers with strong type and

Iconic byline
a simple graphic icon. 

Saul Bass poster -
I love this film
You also designed the cover for Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery. What was the thinking behind that one?

It’s a sharp, sassy fiction story that deals with girls and the problems arising after winning the lottery – including the art of shopping. So we wanted something bold and striking, but feminine and sophisticated. While thinking about shopping, The Devil Wears Prada came to mind – that was the starting point. Immediately the red stiletto shoe communicates power, sex and elegance. Then the type says girlie, light-hearted and funny.
Power, sex and elegance!

 How much do you think about the target audience when planning covers?

The target audience is very important while designing covers as you have to communicate to the right people. It’s really the first thing to think about as you have to try and get into the mind of an 8 year-old, a 12 year-old or a 16 year-old.
I’ve been designing books for the adult market as well but the children’s audience is certainly more challenging.

What other covers (by you and other people) are your favourites?

Designed by David Pearson
I am very pleased with the poetry fiction covers I have designed for Janetta Otter-Barry Books such as An Imaginary Menagerie, The Language of Cat, Hey Little Bug and Come Into this Poem.
I am always looking at the competition, at other designer’s work and it’s always good to get inspiration from the masters of the past. My favourite book cover designs are by Gray318 (especially the Jonathan Safran Foer books) and David Pearson.
Designed by Gray318
(You can contact Arianna at


  1. Wow - I <3 book covers like this - simplyu stunning!

  2. Wow! This graphic ability is so not my thing, but really interesting to hear about the process from someone who does know what they're talking about! And the covers look stunning!

  3. Really fascination post Keren and love the new covers. Good luck with it all!

  4. Love the new colours, and great to read about the thinking behind them.