Cover Art design is an important element in marketing a novel. Book covers must match and attract the right age group who will enjoy the product. Book covers portray the essence of a 300+ page novel with only one image. The artist’s job is to bring the story to life.
Regina Flath has successfully designed multiple young adult book covers and she is here today talking to us about her latest creation: Dance Of Shadows by Yelena Black.
Cover Design Uncut
My name is Regina Flath and I’m the associate designer at Bloomsbury Children’s books. Ever since I could hold a pencil, I loved art and ever since I could read I loved books. I went to the University of the Arts and got my degree in Illustration. During that time I discovered book design as a possible career choice. As soon as I realized I could marry my two passions, books and art, I jumped at the chance and launched myself into the world of book design.
Creating a cover usually involves getting a design memo from the editor, which tells the designer the basics of the story, possibly a cover idea, and the details of the main characters or important settings that could be depicted. Sometimes, like for Dance of Shadows, there’s already an artist we have in mind and this memo goes to the artist.
I like to get the early draft of the manuscript and read it so I can get a sense of the tone of the book as well as details that might inspire imagery or design choices. Once I have a direction, I start photo research, which can be the most labor-intensive part of design. Photo searching can take hours upon hours to find what you need. Once all the photos or other artworks are compiled, I put it all together in Photoshop and edit as needed. With Dance of Shadows, the artist Natalie Shau put the visuals together, our UK team did the type design and I married everything together into the final cover.
One of the cool things about the Dance of Shadows cover is that it was a very collaborative effort between our Bloomsbury design teams internationally. Here in the US we chose the artist and the imagery and the UK team worked with us on the type design so that we could have a global cover.
Working on covers doesn’t always come together as gracefully as Dance of Shadows did. Sometimes I end up with a ‘creative block’. Whenever I get stuck I tell myself I’m just going to make the worst cover I can possibly make (it’s true!). Then I start playing around with terrible ideas and all of a sudden, something cool might happen and then I’m unstuck!
I often get asked what the next ‘big thing’ is in cover design, since we’re waning off the phase of pretty girls in big dresses. I’m seeing a lot more design-heavy covers or iconic covers but with the way publishing is changing with the digital age, I hope to see more covers like Dance of Shadows that come with augmented reality counterparts (Check out the print book in stores and use your smart phone to check it out! It’s the future!).
Regina Flath is a graphic designer for children’s books and young adult novels. She graduated in 2009 with a BFA in Illustration from the University of the Arts. She is a friend to imaginary creatures everywhere. You can see more of her work at reginaflath.com.