“The lost dog poster”: designers on book covers in 2021


As we move towards an increasingly visual world, book covers play a vital role in attracting readers and showing what a book is all about, and in 2021 we’ve seen bright colors and large fonts make a splash. . Books + Publishing asked three book designers to share their favorite covers from this year and their thoughts on designing books for 2022.

Alissa dinallo

Alissa Dinallo is a Sydney-based freelance book researcher who has worked in-house at Allen & Unwin and Penguin Random House Australia. She currently runs her own design studio and works for publishers in Australia, UK and USA.

As social media, especially Instagram, continues to forge one of the most powerful marketing platforms for publishers, book cover trends continue to adhere to the small square tile formula: bright color and strong typeface. . This year, we’ve seen illustrated covers continue to shine in the world of commercial and literary fiction. Large print woven into an abstract or semi-abstract image continued to be a popular trend, a hangover of 2020.

In 2022, I think picture covers will still dominate, but we’ll start to see more Sally Rooney-style fictional covers (big print with small, clean, simple illustrations). I also think that the fun and custom typography will feature a bit more in 2022, mixing type and illustration into one shape to create visually impactful and engaging covers.

Dinallo’s favorite book covers in 2021:

Josh durham

Josh Durham is an award-winning book designer. He has worked with most publishers in Australia as well as with some in the UK and US, traveling under the ironic moniker of Design by Committee (an allusion to the collective and sometimes delicate nature of book design) .

I think we might see a continuation of trends set in 2021 – the ‘lost dog poster’ cover design school – like Una Mannion’s. A crooked tree (Harper), where the guy is at the top and bottom away from a center image that is in a frame. Klara and the sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber) is an even more pared-down example that almost looks like a cover of 1970s Black Sparrow Press poems – quite a feat for a bestseller!

I’m not sure if the general weirdness of the world affects writers and their production as much as designers, as I see a lot more slightly psychedelic field covers such as Nobody talks about it by Patricia Lockwood (Riverhead) or Outlaw by Anna Nord (W&N). The cover for In the Land of the Moon by Miles Allinson (Scribe) manages to do both!

Durham’s Favorite Book Cover of 2021:

For my favorite of the year, this has to be the ballsy blanket for Double Threesome by Nathaniel Mackey, designed by Rodrigo Corral (New Directions). It’s a creative reminder to be brave, to work to the limits of our practice, and to get through it. I would have loved to have known about the internal discussion with sales and marketing: “What, you want to go with the black blob?” “Can’t we at least put five breath quotes in the middle ?!”

Jenny grigg

Jenny Grigg is a lecturer at the School of Design at RMIT University and a designer at Giramondo. Her professional career includes artistic director positions at Rolling stone Australia magazine, MTV Australia and senior designer at Pentagram in London. She has designed for Faber and Faber, Granta Books, UQP and Scribe, including titles by Peter Carey, Paul Auster and Eleanor Catton. She has won several design awards, a State Library Victoria Creation Fellowship in 2011 and a Hall of Fame Induction from the Design Institute of Australia in 2020. She researches the history of graphic design and design. knowledge of materials in the ideation of graphic design.

When I questioned an invitation from B + P to predict the ‘design trends’ of the 2022 book cover, I was given the license to write about the art form outside of its primary business premise: finding ways to appeal to book buyers . The longer I work in the field, the more I look for opportunities to visually explore literary works, to use the new thoughts, calculations and possibilities that reading inspires, rather than to interpret literature according to pre-existing market trends. , a business paradoxically misaligned with the value of books, which is, ideally, hopefully, the reason publishing exists.

As a design professor, I hope to use my experiences to evolve the industry through its young designers. I introduce design as a way to add value, rather than a way to sell, by highlighting rewarding aspects of the profession, such as when an author says that a book cover interprets or crystallizes with it. precision his thoughts. This doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it’s exciting to recognize that there is a collaboration between visual and verbal languages, and that ideas can be expressed in these complementary languages. It is the confirmation that as a designer your role is too inspire new thoughts or new ways of seeing, create interaction between words and images, and help produce a book that fully communicates the value of that book.

Students who choose to study book cover design are often avid readers drawn to the idea of ​​using their visual skills to interpret written concepts they admire and to engage with writers, even directly, to the potential. imaginative books. I would like to think that marketing will play less of a role in determining the results of their future designs. There is a section of covers in my local bookstore window at the moment that seem to be grouped together by their common use of large all-caps typography, but I think, unfortunately, and with reference to the original subject, that in actually these are grouped together because they are the most recent versions. It would be interesting to know what the market itself thinks when faced with seemingly copied editions.

However, bookstores are always so enticing. The design language is versatile and book cover designers necessarily become adept at achieving personal goals within the framework of business imperatives, their skills and concern for what they do, inadvertently setting the rule of marketing. of a creative field. Perhaps because of the way I learned, my eyes are trapped by cover patterns that require me to decipher an idea posed by a designer in order to capture the intent of a book, and most importantly to obscure what has gone wrong. been seen before. I was taught and still teaches that graphic design is a form of transmission of meaning rather than a form of decoration or a means of sale.

Grigg’s Favorite Book Covers of 2021:

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