The Nowhere Girls

This was a fantastic YA book to work on for Simon and Schuster (New York). I opted to read the manuscript one rainy afternoon in the reading room of my favourite pub, the Hillgrove here in Bristol. The Nowhere Girls are a group of students that stand up to the misogynistic culture in their small North American town. After reviewing the editor’s notes I decided to try and portray the kick-ass tone of the girls.

The final cover uses a painting by Daniel Evans that l defaced. The concept is that the Nowhere Girls are crossing out the flowers, which are often seen as a traditional symbol of femininity. I was looking for floral paintings that had a black background, hinting at the darker aspects of the book. The lettering also brings out the NO in NOWHERE. The idea that the girls are saying no to rape culture.

The slideshow includes two other comps from my initial development. The lipstick grafitti idea was especially fun to work on, although l had some strange looks as l experimented with lipstick lettering on a bathroom mirror. It proved difficult to photograph as l had to opt for a side angle. The other design sketch was inspired by some neon paper flyers mentioned in the book. One of the main characters is obsessed with Riot Grrl and l wanted to convey that aesthetic, as if created by a teenage girl. This lead on to researching Kathleen Hanna and discovering The Punk Singer, an insightful documentary on the musician and activist’s life.

I really enjoyed this book and it seems very topical with Donald Trump’s abhorrent attitude towards women. Hopefully the cover does justice to Amy Reed’s excellent writing.


Forever On

The cover design for Forever On was a really fun assignment from Penguin Random House. Unfortunately the project was unused as they decided to go in a different direction. l wanted to share my working process and have included the design comps, some of which are half baked but they show the ideas.

Forever On is a fiction title by Rob Reid that centres around a social network called Phluttr. It explores a lot of current day issues such as AI, advanced neuroscience, sexism, techbro culture, terrorism and robotics.

I wanted to draw on the aesthetics of smartphones, apps and tech companies. The art direction was for these to have a graphic feel. The title changed from Flutter to Forever On during the project, therefore the slideshow has a mixture of the two titles. My ideas included designing the cover as a smartphone app interface, a tech company logo, glitch art, a play on an amazon review and as a text chat.

The publishers also commissioned me to create a small series of emojis that relate to the story. My favourites are included in the final slide.


One Nation Undecided

I was really pleased to work on some titles for this season’s Princeton University Press list. They have created some excellent covers that can be viewed on their design tumblr, along with inspiration and a glimpse of life at the University Press.

This project arrived a couple of months after the devastating Brexit result and it felt particularly relevant to me as it looks at similar topics. The book covers some fascinating themes such as how technological developments do not fit comfortably with our familiar way of thinking, a public distrust in institutions and how people are ignorant to the most basic of facts.

My first round of comps were not really hitting the mark and l decided to revisit this with a more critical eye after the weekend. My favourite comp is based on some feedback from an editor to try and convey ‘the mess we are in’. The design uses the flag’s red stripes to give a feeling of unraveling and confusion. The author amusingly described this as the spaghetti option. I pushed the flag idea further in the third comp with the star spangled banner falling apart, whilst the strong black type represented the clarity and stability of Schuck’s solutions. Perhaps this idea focused too much on destruction.

The selected design was a simple three colour cover, which used a road sign to portray the different directions of the five hard issues.

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