Case Study

“Christmas Is”

Designing a Book Cover

The Concept

Three things help sell a book: a recognizable author, a great premise, and of course, the cover design. (Yes, good publicity helps, but I’m not writing about that.) Books are most certainly judged by their covers, so it’s imperative that the cover reflects the book’s genre and tone, and entices potential readers to pick up the book — otherwise you run the risk of missing the opportunity to connect with your intended audience.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree (photo by Andrew Dallos) and New York City Ballet’s poster for their perennial production of The Nutcracker.

Comps

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
First a found illustration, with a little colorization of the tree, and the night sky.
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
A little more colorization added to 30 Rockefeller Center and some placeholder text.

Plan B

My own “style” is hard-edged and graphic, and the two above suited my purpose and the first two images below served as my inspiration. The first attempt fell flat, plus I’m not a fan of that much green anywhere other than the great outdoors. But hey, design is a process.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

And We’re Off and Running!

I wanted a tree with a bit more oomph than a simple flat green tree. The story is full of complicated plot twists so it was back to finding inspiration. The illustration below of the ornament jumped out at me, its color and diversity reminded me of the vibrance and ethnic diversity of New York … and the characters in the story.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
The unusual ornament that served as the inspiration for a Christmas tree.

Off-Ramp Ahead

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

Rewriting : Writing :: Refining : Designing

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Variation on a theme: the book’s title set in Tungsten (left) and Poster Bodoni (right).
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
A revised Christmas tree with a bond font for the title and color tests on the author’s name.

Clients Do the Darnedest Things

My client decided to pull a fast one by changing the subtitle of the book from “Mischief Merriment Manhattan” to “Mischief and Merriment in Manhattan.”

Image for post
Image for post

Where There’s a Will …

In order to set the subtitle on a single line the type needed to sit on a single-colored field. I forget when the solution hit me, but placing the type on a ribbon proved to be the perfect solution and also kept with the book’s Christmas theme.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
A new ribbon, another font option, and a different sized tree.

Right Under My Nose and Yours

Poster Bodoni Italic worked perfectly—it did everything I asked it. It conveyed friendliness, fun, and motion—until I got a look this little jewel of a font: Noe. The font won me over straightaway. It’s modern, edgy, and not your grandparents’ font. Get a look at those serifs, not a rounded one in the bunch. And it came in italics!

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

Which Brings Us to

The final cover. A graphic representation of the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, surrounding skyscrapers, and heavily reworked Fifth Avenue traffic.

Written by

Artist, actor, author, editorial director of Our Human Family (http://medium.com/our-human-family). Connect via social media: @clayrivers. Love one another.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store