Tag Archives: book designer

The Body Image Book for Girls

This is another job that came my way around 12 months ago. It should have been published in the spring, but was held back due to Covid19.

It’s very different to the kind of academic books I usually get to work on, so it made for a lovely refreshing change.

I started with the cover design. They wanted a typographic cover, but with hand drawn type, something similar to Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, which is a book I had picked up and admired in a bookshop once when browsing for Christmas presents. This got me very excited as I’d been messing around with hand lettering for some time, never expecting to get the chance to use my new found skills on an actual paid job. It was just something I did for fun.

I did two different designs, one of which included some doodles around a silhouette outline of a girls figure. In the end I kind of blended the two designs together into a third, dropping the figure but keeping the doodles, and then we went through a few variations in colour scheme before settling on the final version.

Then came the page layouts. Page layouts are normally pretty straightforward and follow a fairly standard route for most of the books I work on. But, as I said, this is a very different book. So to begin with I spent half a day browsing the bookshops for similar books, or books aimed at a similar market (girls aged 9-15) and I took as many photos with my phone as I could.

Straight away I decided to use as much colour as possible, following the colour palette from the cover, and also taking the doodles through into the page design to make them lively and fun. I had wanted to also incorporate some hand lettering, but eventually decided to use hand lettered fonts instead for consistency. Once I had a few of the illustrations it was just a matter of putting it all together into a design, which thankfully went down well from the off.

Usually I would design a few page spreads, maybe a whole chapter, a few pages from the start and end of the book, all marked up with notes and measurements along with a typespec which gives full specification details to the typesetter. With this one, we bypassed the typesetters and I set out the whole book in InDesign. It was a lot of work, but it meant I could be more freely creative with the layouts, adding coloured pages here and there, doodles wherever I fancied, dropping in the illustrations where it felt best to fill the space.

So all in all it was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward now to working on the boys version. Watch this space!

All the Sonnets of Shakespeare

It’s about time I started updating this blog with new projects I’ve been working on, and as I’ve been lucky to have some lovely creative jobs in the last 12 months, I now have some designs and illustrations that I’m proud to share.

I’m starting with ‘All the Sonnets of Shakespeare’ by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells, which was commissioned to me at the end of 2019.

This really was a dream job for me. The brief stated it was to be a ‘gift edition’ book, basically meaning that no expense would be spared on lovely coloured endpapers, ribbon and gold foil embossing on the cover in order to make it a special book worthy of buying for the beauty of the book itself, which is always a plus for a designer to start with, and a rare thing in academic publishing these days.

If that wasn’t exciting enough, the brief went on to request an illustrated botanical theme (a subject close to my heart) and they referenced a book cover done by one of my current favourite illustrators. If I could have written a brief to myself for my dream job, this would probably be it. No pressure.

After lots of research into which plants or flowers actually get a mention in Shakespeare’s sonnets, and deciding to dismiss roses as being way too obvious and a little too romantic (which was something the publisher requested I should avoid), I ended up with violets and lilies on my list.

The first two visuals covered aspects requested specifically in the brief for some generic foliage in gold and a background pattern which I did with the violets. However, for the third and final visual, using the lilies, I decided to go with a more symmetrical design, working the flowers and the twirly gold strands (another aspect requested) around the typography to frame it in an elegant, classical way. This is a style used on cover designs a lot, and one that I always like. It allows you to fill the space, perfectly balance the visual weight of type to illustration, and blend the two together in a harmonious design.

I’m happy with the end result, and so happy that this design was chosen. It seems to have gone down well with everyone too, which is an added bonus. I hope I have done justice to what should be a real treasure of a book.

PS: once I can get my mitts on an actual copy, I’ll show some photos of more of the book. Some further projects to share with you soon.

Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues – a typographers version

For all typographic loving Bob Dylan fans out there …

Damn. Why didn’t I think of doing that? Very well done. Would love to own some of these pieces as one offs.

For more information on the process and to see some of the stills click here.