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Random Houae book jackets

Putting a Face On It – Inside Book Jacket Design at Random House

Random House has posted a series of videos highlighting recent publications and giving an inside peek at the publishing house. One of their most recent uploads features some of their most noted art directors speaking on The Art of Cover Design. The video offers intriguing insight into their approach, as summarized by Robbin Schiff: “Our job is not to illustrate the book. Our job is to intrigue the consumer, set the tone, set the stage…” Key to their process is thorough research, including meeting with the editors, interviewing the authors about what their mindset was as they were writing the book, and closely reading the book manuscript.

While each art director brings his or her unique sensibility to the design process, they all take inspiration from the author’s words. The process is very intuitive; Chip Kidd describes getting a feel for a typographic versus illustrated versus photographic solution for a particular work. Sometimes surprising elements are incorporated. Peter Mendelsund, the designer of Stieg Larrson’s The Girl… trilogy, describes using a photocopy of his daughter’s hair in the cover design for the Girl Who Played with Fire.  The insight into the arduous process of repeatedly revising the designs, often working in tandem with illustrators, is priceless.

Brought to our attention by @brainpickings

At top of page: In the video, Peter Mendelsund, Chip Kidd, and Robbin Schiff discuss the process behind the design of selected book jackets.



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