I started researching book cover design over a year ago. After going blind searching Google images, I settled on a style, that I both liked, and felt appropriate for the books narrative. It had to be ‘of a time’, serious but quirky, timidly feminine but masculine all the same, tragically middle-aged, with a tinge of hope and humour. These are the screen grabs for my original inspiration.
I had originally intended to create the cover myself. The whole project was private and personal, and of no particular commercial bent. I also felt, as only a naïve optimist can, that no one knew the subject better than me. Who better to compose my book’s epic avalanche of an introduction? Which of course is the frailty of the overly-invested.
I settled on a big red apple as per, Botanika by Aniela Kozlowski, and began to build my own version. It was the essence of the how the central character of the book saw his life – he knew happiness was out somewhere, but he had lost sight of it, forgotten where he had put it down. Misplaced it. Having him stand on the biggest reddest juiciest plumpest pedestal of happiness there was, and looking in completely the wrong direction, seemed the perfect visual metaphor to me. To me alone that is. I showed it to friends, some of who were artists and designers, and they all returned a look of blank disappointment. I absorbed the blow.
It was time to employ a professional. I contacted two, who promised the earth and disappeared swiftly there after – for which I am extremely grateful in retrospect. And then I remembered an old friend, who seemed to remember me as well, and perhaps even more helpfully, appeared to feel a personal obligation to step in and save me from my desultory illustration skills. He even promised to read the book, which filled me with great enthusiasm.
He returned these as our starting point.
I was immediately struck that I had wasted an entire year of my life, and that no amount of pleading would ever return it to me. As is the nature of professionals however, they tend to know what they are doing, and in no time at all I had the creative execution I had hoped for. I showed it to the assembled who all agreed that my book could never live up to the cover. I took the applause!