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Graphic Design, Book Covers, and You - Part II

Reading a Book by Its Cover
The chance to produce art for a book cover is rare, but the essential thought processes and creative steps are very similar, if not identical, in the inventive process. In this series we actually try to read a book by its cover–to see if the design concept is successful or not.

In the process of viewing these book cover examples, we may be able to tap into some inspiration for graphic design.

obsession-compositeTexture Is Good
On first inspection of the book cover art, it looks rather unremarkable. The font does draw our attention with the word “Obsession” by its vertical placement, and the little needle to the left of the letters makes us wonder why it is there. But upon closer inspection, there is definitely more going on than meets the eye, literally.

The lettering is actually a series of thousands of embossed pin-pricks that form the word “Obsession.” The appearance of the needle now makes sense and the design concept of “obsession” is ingenious. Graphic design normally means working in an entirely 2-D world, but the incorporation of physical depth is an option that graphic designers can draw upon in their bag of tricks.

women-who-dumped-me-book-coverFunny Is Good
This book cover example could also be considered as “Literal Is Good,” but because it coveys a sense of humor, it goes into this category instead.

The image and text go hand-in-hand. If one element is separated from the other, the overall concept is weakened or totally destroyed. The graphic designer uses the book’s idea of  “being dumped” and the image of a heart  in various pieces very effectively in demonstrating the concept of a “broken heart.”

The design idea is pretty funny and effective.

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comic-book-book-coverRelating Is Good
Anyone who has gone into a comic book store or is a collector of comics can totally identify with the image on this book cover. The old cardboard box with a hastily printed subject tab on white cardstock is a visual reference that connects instantly with people who are comic book fans.

But the unique design of the book cover art also induces a curiosity for the general book audience as well. The design is fun and piques the curiosity of the viewer to open up the book to see what the book is all about.

Striking a common chord with the intended audience is an effective means of visual marketing.

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abraham-lincoln-book-coverFamous Is Good
If you need to establish the subject of a particular project quickly, nothing is more effective than using an iconic image associated with someone or something famous. In this case, it is the portrait of Lincoln on the bill of the United States five-dollar bill.

The idea for this book cover is so simple but automatically lets the public know it is a book about Lincoln. What isn’t known when viewing the book’s front cover is whether the book is about money or Lincoln, but this issue is taken care of by the printed title on the spine of the book — “Abraham Lincoln: Great American Historians on Our Sixteenth President.”

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The World Is Our Oyster for Inspiration
Book cover design, while outside the realm for most of us, is still important for our graphic design education.

We can learn about the process of design by merely viewing book art. We don’t need to necessarily go to a museum of art to get inspiration because much of the inspiration we need is just a few minutes away at the corner magazine stand, library or local bookstore.

So the next time someone says you can’t read a book by its cover, you can say, “I can!”

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