In the midst of a pandemic, my expectations of a book cover have become simpler. Either it had to signal the book’s intention to explore mortality, with which we spend our lives struggling to make peace, or it had to go the other way and remind a potential reader – strong, if possible – that the possibilities of curiosity, wonder, exploration, beauty, art and life still counted in a year largely dominated by hand sanitizing while parading.
For a designer, moving in either direction is harder than it looks. While much of what used to be the normal day has come to a halt this year, the barrage of updates, warnings, flashes, messages, tweets and links featuring worsened local and global emergencies has taken hold. is pursued at a steady pace, often accompanied by pictures, all competing for our attention, all the time. The covers that made lasting impressions this year did so because of everyone’s ability to survive in the mind, just as we have all sought to survive in 2020. That the cover of a book – something produces with a finite lifespan – to hold us down through such a bitter and caustic year is either a triumph of art or a sign that our collective alarm bells are still not ringing loud enough. It may be both.