Beautifully Briefed, Late January 2023: Winter Potpourri

From book design and minimalist photography to … well, book design and what absolutely isn’t minimalist photography, plus some street signs and another warning about Adobe. Let’s dig in.

Book Design #1: People Really Do Judge a Book by its Cover

From University College Cork — that’s Ireland, folks — we have something that, on the surface, seems obvious: a book cover “is the most likely factor to convince a person to read a book if they are unfamiliar with the work or its author.” Maria Butler, a PhD candidate in the School of English and Digital Humanities at UCC, reminds us why.

Design by Kimberly Glyder.

You’re reading Foreword, so you likely agree — and shown above is one of those worth-a-thousand-words images: the first of the 2023 titles I’ve set aside for my favorites of the year, and absolutely something good enough to make me pluck it off the shelf without knowing anything about either the title or author.

Bonus: See 70 (!) more of my Favorite Book Covers of 2022.

Book Design #2: Shift Happens

A fantastic website has clicked our way: Shift Happens, for a book about keyboards.

A screenshot from the Shift Happens website. Great stuff.

This project not only scores with great web design — check the interactive version of the book, pictured above — but what also seems like great book design. It’s a Kickstarter project (or will be, next month), so the usual cautions apply, but I might just go ahead and take the leap.

Couple of interesting book design items, by the way: the TOC is at the back, the endpapers are awesome, and the macro photography is tops. The book design reminds me of The Playmakers, still my favorite book design project ever.

Bonus: Tim Walsh, author of The Playmakers, is still going strong. Nice.

Photography #1: Minimalism

The winners of the Minimalist Photography of 2022 awards are in, some are fantastic. Here are a couple of favorites, from the architecture category:

“Prince Claus Bridge in the Netherlands,” by Arthur van Orden
“Blue Window,” by Andrea Richey

The Minimalist Photography Award is the only foundation that deals extensively and professionally with minimalist photography as a branch of photography in which the photographic artistic vision takes the lead.

Milad Safabakhsh, President of Minimalist Photography Awards
Photography #2: Wonders of Street View

This is Colossal brings us another gem from Neal.Fun: the Wonders of Street View.

“Wall Driver,” indeed.

Direct quote, just because: “A man with three legs, a vintage car scaling a building, and an unsettling formation of people donning bird masks are a few of the scenarios highlighted in the terrifically bizarre Wonders of Street View.”

I didn’t know it was a thing to dress up and pose for the Google cameras. Perfect.

Street Sign Style Guide

Speaking of street views, did you know there’s a style guide for highway signs? Would you believe that I’m a fan?

Interestingly, there is an I-42/I-17 interchange in Phoenix, but this ain’t it: these signs are representational.

As with most things government, there’s confusion, too many regulations, and yet it’s based around good ideas. Beautiful Public Data has a guide to the guide.

Adobe Steps in it, Again

From DPReview: “If you’re an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber, you might want to go and turn off a new setting immediately. It’s been discovered that Adobe has automatically opted users into a ‘Content analysis’ program that allows Adobe to analyze your media files […] for use in its machine learning training programs.”

It’s important to note that Adobe only uses the files saved in the “Creative Cloud,” something I don’t do as a matter of course, but even still, this is yet another example of Adobe using its monopoly position in the creative field to take advantage of its paying customers.

Adobe, unsurprisingly, didn’t return DPReview’s request for a comment/clarification.

My Favorite Book Covers of 2022

Just like last year, this post took longer than expected due to the best possible circumstance: there were so many great book cover designs in 2022 that I had a hard time whittling down the list. Even as it is, we’re busting right through last year’s limit of 50. Good times!

If we take a step back and look at the trends this years’ favorites represent, it’s more and better illustration, custom and hand-painted type, and a sense of a single focus — one, dominant thing on a field of color. Also, the trend of fewer photographs continues — more evidence that photography has become so ubiquitous that something different is required to stand out. (Or, of course, a really great photograph.)

Please remember that these are my favorites — others might say “best,” but I’ve been in this business long enough to know that there’s always another great title you haven’t seen or read about, and I don’t want to disrespect any of the great book designers not on this list. I’ve tried to include design credit where I could (special thanks to the folks who answered emails with that information), and I wish to stress that any mistakes in the list below (incorrect attribution, for instance) are mine.

Note: If you’re on Foreword’s main page, please click on the post title, above, to view this list. You’ll get larger covers for your viewing pleasure.

My favorite book covers for 2022 (Three-way tie):
Design by Julianna Lee.

How to be Eaten combines an aged look, just a smidgen of pencil sketch, hand-drawn type, and those eyes to create something that just goes beyond. I’m certain the background wolf and creases are real, too, either photographed or scanned — bonus points for that all-too-rare practical effects — and all this in what amounts to two colors. Simply awesome.

Design by Na Kim.

The Book of Goose defies use of the words “art form” — it’s the kind of cover that for many designers would be once-in-a-career good. However, Na’s work appears below, was here last year, and speaks to Na’s creativity being, well, a golden goose that just keeps on giving.

Design by Derek Thornton.

Simply put: there’s literally nothing about The Illusion of Simple that isn’t perfect. J’adore.

Other 2022 favorites, in alphabetical order:
Design by Matt Bray.

This is striking not only for the beautifully-photographed woman in the pool, but the way the pool is extended out to make that woman even more striking. The pattern overlay is fantastic, too.

Design by Pete Garceau.

There’s nothing about this not to like: the frankly perfect illustration on a great background color, the head through the “O,” subtitle censorship bar, the sock, even the title. Enjoy-a-cigarette-after good.

SoHo Press didn’t return a request for cover design information.

Bunch of aged books with a little type, right? Yes, by so much more: striking colors, great hand-done supplementary text, perfect title treatment, style in spades.

Design by Jo Walker.

This is a UK cover — the American one is okay, but not on this list — that celebrates a minimalism that is rarely seen, let alone so well seen.

Design by Tyler Comrie.

What’s not to say about this cover? While faceless women are perhaps overused, this is a book I’d snatch off the shelf — and seemly catch something from — in an instant. Well. Done.

Design by Oliver Munday.

As simple illustrations go, this one in on track for the city of Superlative. Another Oliver Munday classic.

Illustration by Seb Agresti.

Along with “faceless woman” is “headless woman,” but the illustration here more than makes up for it. But it’s the expert, almost laugh-out-loud use of a void that makes it. Well done.

Design by Aleia Murawski and Sam Copeland.

Sure, the title and background colors are neat, the sky outside is cool, and “a novel” is a nice, subtle addition. However: I want to know how this photograph happened. (And a waffle hot dog.)

Design by Maddie Partner.

The first of a couple of titles with unexpected wrap-around type treatments, this one has great type choices, too. But the real treat for me is the plane knocked out the photograph. Fantastic.

Design by Suzanne Dean.

This title hides a secret: under the simple and wonderfully-die-cut jacket is a beautiful photo from René Groebli’s photoessay The Eye of Love.

Awesome. (Note that, once again, we celebrate the UK version of the book; the US hardcover has a design not on this list. Crumpets.)

Design by Mike Topping.

The moon as O. The birds. The graduation from fur to imagery. The yellow. Any would be good on their own, but are great together. Have to say: I’ve seen this in multiple shades of yellow. I prefer the darker — closer to the Barnes title, above — to the lighter, shown here.

Design by Anna Morrison.

The typography, awesome little plane — the purse(r)! — the clouds, all of it: sky-high levels of good.

Interestingly, Fight Night‘s cover also had a 2021 version worthy of note:

Design by Patti Ratchford, illustration by Christina Zimpel.

I can’t begin to imagine what caused the redesign, or why it wound up being so radically — 180 degree! — different. The old design wound up on some “best covers” lists (here’s LitHub’s October 2021 post, for instance); both have wound up on mine.

Design by Ploy Siripant.

The bird exiting the scene stage right makes this just right, with bonus points for the textured paper and slightly-rounded sans serif. I think the illustration is perfect — classically done, one could say — and also love that “author of Want” is in a different font.

Design by Vi-An Nguyen.

Four Treasures to the Sky, mentioned in the May book cover design roundup, leaps into the best-of-the-best list. It features an aged look, but in a woodblock way that celebrates its limited palette. Add in the illustration’s interactions with the type and the vertical “a novel” — often an afterthought — and brilliance emerges.

W. W. Norton didn’t respond to a cover designer request. Apologies.

As photomontages go, this one is simple — yet simply powerful: red Albania meets (and hugs!) beheaded Stalin. Great choices.

Design by Alison Forner.

The quality of type and decorations on this “label” are beyond outstanding. This cover is candy for book design lovers and readers alike.

Design by Alex Merto.

From It’s Nice That, we have a nice feature on Alex Merto — whose Ghost Wall cover is a great example of plant life adding so much more: “the force of a river to the head,” to paraphrase Emma Donoghue’s quote. Plus, one color! Win.

Design by Grace Han.

Nine parts awesome: type and illustration join to light a fire under the words “quality” and “imagination.” (Have I mentioned that I love a textured paper? Here’s a different one that’s also great.) This is one of several titles that’s not only a great book cover, but on a bunch of “best book” lists, too. Great books should have cover equal to their contents, and this one scores.

Design by Emily Mahon.

This isn’t here because of the attention Ukraine deserves these days, it’s here because of that illustration. Brilliant design needn’t be complicated, so ably proved here.

Design by Lucy Kim.

I mentioned at the top of the post that, these days, photographs have to bring something special to the table to stand out. And this cover does, from any table in any bookstore anywhere. (Lovely typography choices here, too.)

Design by Matthew Broughton.

One trend I didn’t mention at the top of the article is the montage-in-type, done here to absolute perfection.

Design by Andrea Ucini.

The woman in looking off the edge of the page at … something looking back. (Not only that, whatever it is casts a shadow.) The book is described as “subtle yet candid,” something that could equally be said about this brilliant cover.

Design by Holly Ovenden.

Another UK cover, this image doesn’t show the uncoated stock and debased type — but does show the jump-off-the-shelf color choices and awesome interaction of title with background. (The US cover, alas, resorted to stereotype. Perhaps we aren’t sophisticated enough?)

Yale Univ. Press didn’t respond to a request for the cover designer.

Choose a interesting texture, put some blocks of color on it, some type and … done. Hah! (Seriously, just look at the hands: they say it all.) Bonus to the hints of doily in heaven.

Design by Emma Ewbank.

The wrap-around title treatment makes another appearance here, with bonus second and third layers and a perfectly-done pull quote. With the aged ink fill and type accenting the striking illustration, this one is in that “wall-worthy” category.

Design by Matt Dorfman.

On our second Ukrainian title, both flower and umbrella work together here to force us to stop and look. (The stenciled type is a brilliant stroke, too.) Proof that genius often appears simple.

Design by Jenny Carrow.

The montage, taken to the next level: Jaffa, orange exports, and an healthy serving of emotion. (Also: curved text is rarely so on-target.)

Design by John Gall.

So simple, yet it is precisely that reaching off the shelf, grabbing your attention. This book is described as “spare and monumental,” and no less can be said of the cover.

Design by June Park.

“Texture is key,” sure, but there’s texture and there’s this. The island’s brush strokes into what seem like a moon are whatever happens beyond perfection. I didn’t expect this cover for a novel about Pakistan, yet the emotion, the … evocation is perfect.

Design by Oliver Munday.

Apple? Tongue? Misfit teenager? Disturbed and distressed? Yes.

W. W. Norton didn’t respond to a request for cover design information.

Rarely are such seemingly “dry” subjects treated with such skill: the angled type set against an urgent red, the subtitle sticker-that’s-better, and the photo choices add up to something I’d grab off a shelf immediately.

Cover design: Christopher Sergio

LitHub says this one has a very high “hang on the wall” factor. I can’t think of a better description — great stuff.

Cover design: Na Kim

Na Kim just can’t help but design the best covers: a wonderful, antique background complimented by sheer brilliance. (Great typography, too.)

Cover design: Emily Mahon

It’s nigh-on impossible to look at this cover and not flip it around to read the text trisecting the leopard. Take something simple, add the elusive more, get this. Yeah.

Cover design: Jim Tierney

Another fantastic example of plants adding more than the sum of their parts. The mottled green background and watercolor-style falloff is perfectly complimentary. Great stuff.

Macmillan did not return my inquiry regarding a cover designer.

From the Banned Books Department, we have the 20th Anniversary edition of this difficult title rendered in a photo-based collage that’s nothing short of brilliant. Highest praise.

Bonus: Kudos, too, to Open Culture: The New York Public Library Provides Free Online Access to Banned Books: Catcher in the RyeStamped & More.

Design by Anna Jordan.

Very nearly the perfect black-and-white cover. Texture and shape combine with an incredible title treatment in a way that shrugs off the need for color. Fantastic.

Design by Allison Saltzman, art by Sonya Clark.

I’ve said before that moving to the South was a bit of a shock — the racism still all-too-evident jars all-too-often. This cover takes a simple, elegant idea and, without any of the stereotypes so often reached for, delights with style and simplicity, absolutely earning its spot in this list. (This is another of those titles that’s on many “best of” book lists, too. It’s a genuine pleasure to see worthy books get great covers.)

Design by Holly Macdonald.

“Wow” is the only word here — a stunner of a photograph used in, if I may borrow from the cover, a breathtaking way. Simple, elevated to exquisite.

Design by Jamie Keenan.

Never mind that I never knew Cary Grant was once a stilt walker (or named Archie Leach), this is an exercise in using a famous face in an innovative way, with a cast of supporting characters that flow as naturally as lines on paper. A trip through the possible — fantastically well-done.

Design by Jamie Stafford-Hill.

Fantastic type and color treatments, yes, but it’s the way the photograph is handled that shines: where the eyes are, the color treatment implying front and side, all of it. A 2016 book reissued in hardcover with a cover guaranteed to attract new readers.

Design by Oliver Munday, or perhaps Erik Rieselbach (depending on who you ask).

This cover is the antithesis of a swelled, salted herring: it’s brisk, to the point (if I do say so), and throws a life ring out to inspire book designers everywhere.

Book design: David Drummond

Brilliant: actual text, printed (on a great color paper, too), with actual string, photographed on said print. Not only is it exactly right for the subject matter, it’s simply and beautifully done.

Cover design: Jack Smyth

Never mind the great brushed color blocks or boat-rowing-the-ocean above the title. This is here mainly for the overlap between color and island: shortlisted for the prize for intersection-of-the-year.

Design by Luke Bird.

“I’ll just do a little cropping,” designers say. Then there’s … genius.

Design by Mary Austin Speaker, art by Stacia Brady.

Another piece of art that’s absolutely wall-worthy — actually by the author’s mother — complimented by a tasteful type treatment with a wonderfully-offset “poems.”

Design by Colin Webber.

“Great” can’t even begin to describe this cover — from the lemon shape, staggered type, green background, back-of-head portrait, to the slightly-aged treatment, we have ingredients that add up to that highest of achievements: a book I’d buy knowing nothing about, no hype [machine] needed.

Design by John Gall.

Classical painting with a singularity. Sure. So easily pulled off … if you’re John Gall.

Graywolf Press didn’t respond to a request regarding cover design.

The title treatment is the winner here, using two translucent shades of orange to the best possible effect — taking a nice painting/illustration to the top floor.

Design by Alex Merto.

Describing this cover as “haunting” would be a cheat — but completely accurate. (Love the line of type down the right side, too.)

Design by Jamie Keenan.

The rare type-only treatment … taken to an entirely new level. Fantastic.

Design by Christina Vang.

A triumph of textures: one matchbook you never want to throw away.

Design by Lauren Peters-Collier.

Breaks through more than water and time: it’s thrust into your memory. (See a note from the designer at LitHub’s cover reveal.)

Design by Albon Fischer.

One of only two text-only treatments in this list, done in a ’70s style — yet taken to a clever and impressive level. (Love the stacked “lls.”)

Design by June Park.

I adore how the type and frankly fantastic illustration work together here. Wonderful!

Design by Claire Rochford.

Cookbooks rarely make an appearance on “best book covers” lists — yet this one earns its spot with an antithesis-of-the-stereotype approach. Ordinary it is not, in the best possible way.

Design by Jack Smyth.

Another UK version — the US version is good, more than most even, but it’s this one that shines with its great photo choices, cut lines, and great type treatment.

Design by Katie Tooke.

This one’s a two-fer, with the UK version, above, showing the book-edge treatment done really well, while the US version…

Design by … ?

…takes it to another level. Is there such a thing as a cloud globe? Or is that one of those old-fashioned stock-ticker covers? Either way, the subtle pattern — in front in some places, receding in others — adds a wonderful touch. Great stuff. (Great, too, to see the US version take one: a rare treat.)

YUP didn’t respond to an info request. Apologies.

Yale University Press scores a win here, with something immediately recognizable as about music, yet so much more. Performance art, indeed.

Design by Na Kim.

Na Kim apparently not only did the design but the illustration, as well. The rest of us can only aspire to that level of talent.

Cover design: Leanne Shapton

This illustration being in grayscale is, at first, a little off. But, of course, that’s exactly the point. I overuse “brilliant,” but it’s the best description. (Again, see a note from the designer at LitHub‘s cover reveal.)

Design by Elizabeth Yaffe.

Family epics, climate change, dystopian futures, and Moon — all somehow included in this rich illustration. Two-color greatness. (Bonus: Another great use of “a novel,” something often “meh.”)

Design by Brian Moore.

A standout historical photograph is only the beginning: it’s really the coloration that’s the story here, for both book and cover — so well done.

Design by Kelly Blair. Illustration by Toby Leigh.

Among the best book cover illustrations ever, perfectly inserted into the seatback in front of you. (Great Circle’s cover was in last year’s list, by the way.)

Design by Christopher Moisan.

There’s something about underwater photography, with its beautiful, soft light and fascinating reflections, that is evocative — and there’s nothing about this photograph that isn’t evocative. A triumph.

• • •

Whew. Seventy great book covers. 70!

Okay, let’s summarize: 2022’s crop of favorite covers not only surpass 2021’s, the quality of work here represent what I believe to be a new standard. To all the designers — and art directors that chose them — congratulations.

Looking forward to 2023!

How we got here:

My selections stem from books I’ve seen in person; the “best of” lists from NPRThe New YorkerKottke, The Guardian, and the BBC; and the best book cover lists from Spine, The Washington PostCasual OptimistKottkeCreative Review, and LitHub. See how my list compares with theirs — a great many more outstanding examples of cover creativity await.

See also: my favorites from 2022’s University Press Design Show.

Beautifully Briefed, Late October 2022 [Updated X2]: Translucent Hummingbirds, Honda, Landscape Photography, and … Vampires!

In this edition: Hummingbirds, the UK’s 2022 Landscape Photography of the Year 2022, a potential new logo treatment from Honda, and something just in time for Halloween.

Who Knew: Hummingbird Edition
Wow.

Taken when the creatures are mid-flight and beating their wings at incredible speeds, Spencer’s striking photos capture sunlight as it filters through their feathers, emitting a full spectrum of color. The opalescent phenomenon is caused by diffraction and transforms their limbs into tiny, ephemeral rainbows.

This is Colossal

Let’s set aside for the moment the time and energy get these photographs and just celebrate that Australian photographer Christian Spencer worked to get these shots. Better still, there’s a book:

Like the typography in addition to the photograph, too. Thanks to This is Colossal for pointing us in this pretty wonderful direction.

New Honda Logo?

This hasn’t been reported anywhere, so I don’t know whether there’s a shift ahead for Honda (pardon the expression), but…:

This is a photograph — well, graphic — of the 2024 Prologue EV. Note that instead of the classic “H” seen on every Honda since I don’t know when, the name is spelled out.

Maybe it’s because this is a rebadged GM?

Either way, you heard it here first. (Read more about the Prologue on Motor1.)

Update, 29 October 2022: Motor1 has another preview, this time of the upcoming 11th-gen Accord, the rear of which uses the usual “H.” So, electric-only? Models from 2024?

Update, 7 November 2022: Here’s a future Honda model for China with the name spelled out. (Here’s the Motor1 story, and a second, better article from Autopian.) So … maybe?

2022 Landscape Photography of the Year

These haven’t gotten much press here in the US, and they deserve better:

Windmill in the Mist, Itay Kaplan – winner, historic Britain
Loch Awe, Damian Waters – winner, lines in the landscape

My personal favorite is this stunning shot:

Ascension, Demiray Oral – winner, classic view

The Dragon’s Back.1The aptly-named Dragon’s Back is in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Black Mountains, Wales. Take a walk. Thanks to The Guardian for the slideshow. See the entire list of winners on the official contest website.

Vampires!

Speaking of slideshows on The Guardian, they had a great subject just in time for Halloween: “Cinema’s unquenchable thirst for vampires celebrated in posters.”

A classic.
A future classic — scary-great.

Unquenchable thirst, indeed. Enjoy.

  • 1
    The aptly-named Dragon’s Back is in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Black Mountains, Wales. Take a walk.

Beautifully Briefed, Early October 2022 [Updated]: Triboro’s Lyrics, Hoefler’s Daggers, and Skoda and Citroen Provide Contrast

This time, we’ve got some great book design (with a bonus), Hoefler educates on typography (with a bonus), and two updated car company logos. Let’s get right to it!

Print Magazine on the design of Lyrics

The still-very-relevant-in-2022 Print Magazine brings us a great feature on the design of Paul McCartney’s book, Lyrics:

Front and back covers of Paul McCartney’s Lyrics, by Triboro Design.

Turns out it was designed by an outfit called Triboro Design, from Brooklyn (appropriately). Print brings us an interesting interview with David Heasty, the principal:

I […] found him to be sharp, quick, articulate, and modest. Below, we discuss Paul’s involvement with the project, the book’s gorgeous bespoke typeface, and the importance of staying true to a legend’s vision.

Ellen Shapiro, Print Mag
The “S” spread of Paul McCartney’s Lyrics, by Triboro Design.

Interesting and informative. Catch this interview when you can.

Bonus: Looking at Triboro’s website, this lovely piece of typography stood out:

Triboro Design’s Zolo Jesus album typography creates desire.
Hoefler Discusses Daggers

In “House of Flying Reference Marks,” Jonathan Hoefler talks about daggers, or, what you use when an asterisk isn’t enough:

Hoefler on daggers.

Beautiful examples, complete with a phrase you don’t hear everyday: “twisted quillon.” Read and enjoy. (If the opportunity presents, follow on with the ampersand article — which, uh, takes a stab at where the word came from. Nice.)

Bonus: Creative Boom’s article, “18 highly respected type foundries that remain fiercely independent.” (I guess you could say I’m still surprised Hoefler is now, well, Monotype.)

Skoda and Citroen have new logos

It seems like nearly all of the major car manufacturers have introduced a new logo in the past couple of years, but here are two more. One’s best described as “an update,” while the other … goes a little farther.

Skoda, for those that don’t know, is a Czech company and part of the massive VW Group. Frankly, it shows:

Skoda’s 2022 Kodiaq, a thoroughly VW Group product.

For 2023, they’re introducing a push to separate themselves from VW a little, resisting the downmarket image. As is (now) normal with updated car company identities, there’s a concept:

Skoda’s Vision 7s concept.

It’s … not inspiring. Maybe the actual updated logo will turn the corner:

Skoda’s 2022 logo.

Solid. (Pardon the pun.) But seriously, even an avid car nut like me didn’t know that represents a winged arrow — and I’m not sure the new version helps. At least they get points for consistency:

Evolution of Skoda’s logo, 1895–2023.

Read more at Brand New’s “Czech this Out,” or Carscoops’ more optimistic take, “Thriving Skoda Brand Forging Its Own Path Within The VW Group.”

Then there’s Citroen. Even under the potentially-smothering corporate blanket that is Stellantis (there’s a name!), the pioneer of decades past still manages to actually thrive. First their new logo:

Citroen’s 2022 logo.

They’re not quite as consistent — the dual chevrons have varied a bit. This time, they’ve literally gone back to their roots, pulling the 1919/1921/1936 version out and dusting it off for modern use:

History of Citroen’s logos, 1919–2022.

Points to them for hinting at what’s to come, too:

Citroen’s 2022 logo, with just a slice of concept car showing.

…Which turns out to be something with, ahem, Oli bits:

Citroen’s Oli: the antithesis of a Skoda.

“Nothing moves us like Citroen,” they say. The Oli moves me, to a point where I truly wish Citroen was once again available in the ’States. Cool and radically innovative, without losing sight of something VW has truly lost: fun. Well done.

Read more on the logo: Motor1, “Citroen Unveils Updated Retro-Flavored Logo And New Slogan,” and Carscoops, “Citroen Unveils New Logo Inspired From Its Past, Teases New Concept.” Read more on the Oli at the excellent Autopian: “The Citroen Oli Concept Is An EV Made From Cardboard And Good Ideas.”

Updated, 19 October, 2022: Brand New adds to Citroen’s new logo story, with a slightly-less-than-enthusiastic take on the logo and has frankly unkind things to say about the new, custom typeface (custom typefaces are now de rigueur — a policy as much related to rights ownership than creativity, alas).

I really like the cursive in this Vimeo screenshot:

YouTube? What YouTube? Citroen posts to Vimeo. Ahh, the French.

BN also includes a number of extra photographs of the simply awesome Oli, too. Here are a couple, for your enjoyment:

Plug-and-Citroen.

Note the removable Bluetooth speakers (the black tubes with “+” and “-“) and, especially, the seats:

I love everything about this interior.

Check the rest, and BN’s take, here.

Apologies to both Skoda and Citroen for the lack of language-correct accents. WordPress needs a glyph function.

50 Books, 50 Covers: 2021 Edition

AIGA has announced their winners of the 2021 50 Books, 50 Covers competition:

With 605 book and cover design entries from 29 countries, this year’s competition recognizes and showcases excellence in book design from around the world. […] Eligible entries for the 2021 competition were open to books published and used in the marketplace in 2021.

AIGA Press Release

In this year’s competition, innovative book designs for topics ranging from designing and motherhood, African surf culture, stories of resistance, visual histories of Detroit, Black food traditions, and more all give our jury life, hope, and visible windows into new possible worlds. The covers and books we looked at had a diverse range of visual language and took aesthetic risks.

Silas Munro, AIGA [Competition] Chair

As usual, there are items here that I haven’t seen before, along with several that surfaced on others’ “best of 2021” book design lists (see that Foreword post for my faves). Also as usual, there are some excellent choices.

Further, there’s something in this competition that you don’t see in the usual “best of” posts: interiors. Half of the competition is covers, sure, but the other half considers the whole book design — and sometimes, as I can definitely attest, an underwhelming cover can lead to a treasure within.

But enough talking. My favorites, in no particular order:

Cover by George McCalman.
Book design by George McCalman.

This is one from the 2021 “best of” finalists that I didn’t post about — but now that I’ve seen the interior…. So very worthy. (See more.)

Cover design by David Chickey and Mat Patalano.
Book design by David Chickey and Mat Patalano.

This series of three books not only have striking covers I’d not seen before but exceptionally competent interiors done on matte paper, a personal favorite. (Click through for more examples.) Excellent.

Design overseen by Haller Brun.
Design overseen by Haller Brun.

In this fascinating book, architectural photographer Iwan Baan and (Pritzker-winning) architect Francis Kéré “set out to capture how the sun’s natural light cycle shapes vernacular architecture.” While I may be slightly biased in terms of architecture and photography, this one’s a winner. (Read the AIGA’s take.)

Cover by Andrea A. Trabucco-Campos.
Book design by Andrea A. Trabucco-Campos.

“A little overly precious,” the AIGA says … while awarding it a prize. Completely fresh, I say, with interesting content presented in a way that does considerably more than interest. Well done. (See them apples.)

Cover by Gary Fogelson and Ryan Waller.
Book design by Gary Fogelson and Ryan Waller.

“The type on the cover and in the body is perfect, in all ways and choices. The use of the gutter for captions is a great understanding of the art and a perfect way to save space. The page numbers too.”

Brian Johnson, AIGA Judge

This is one of those books that you have to say, “I wish I’d done that.” Great stuff. (See its individual entry.)

The Time Formula. Cover by Honza Zamojski.
Book design by Honza Zamojski.

There always seems to be some projects that violate book design “rules” — this one doesn’t have a title on the cover, has page numbers in the gutters, and more. Yet this book, about a sculpture project, makes for interesting viewing indeed. (See more.)

Last, we have a couple that are only covers:

Cover by Janet Hansen.

This was considered for my favorites of 2021 (and made it onto others’ lists). I’m glad to have been given the chance to call it out. Excellent in its simplicity. (See the AIGA entry.)

Last, but certainly not least:

Cover by Lydia Ortiz.

Another advantage of this competition: seeing more than the front cover. And this cover, front, back, and spine, is so much more — especially in person: black plus four neon inks. Wow. (See the AIGA’s praise.)

Many, many more to choose from at AIGA: set aside a little time, wander through all of the projects chosen, and truly enjoy. (Via Locus.)

FYI: See last year’s 50 Books, 50 Covers, too.

Beautifully Briefed, Early July 2022: The Autopian, The Ford Heritage Vault, and an Eames Follow-Up

Car site The Autopian scores with book design, Ford posts old marketing material gold mine, and more on the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity in this edition of Beautifully Briefed.

Autopian suggests book design

The Autopian, founded by a couple of former Jalopnik writers, is a new automotive gem: in these days of more-of-the-sameism sites trying to make money of others’ ideas, the Autopian has a retro style and interesting, original content.

Including this short post from their Cold Start column:

Sometimes you may encounter an old car ad and realize that the design of it could lend itself very well to something completely different. In this case, this 1958 Ford Zodiac ad, with its rich, saturated colors, striking dress on the model, and evocative name with understated typography just feel like something you’d see on modern book cover design.

Jason Torchinsky, Autopian Founder

The ad:

A 1958 Ford Zodiac (European)

His book design idea “realized”:

Jason’s book cover mock-up. Love the author name.

Nice.

The Ford Heritage Vault

Ford has taken the unusual step of posting a good chunk of their old — 1903 to 2003, their first 100 years — marketing materials online: “promotional materials, photographs, and all kinds of other historical goodies,” according to CarScoops.

“Our archives were established 70 years ago, and for the first time, we’re opening the vault for the public to see. This is just a first step for all that will come in the future,” says Ted Ryan, Ford archive and heritage brand manager.

Here’s a personal favorite: the 1965 full line brochure, showing the cars set in architectural drawings — presumably, matching the car to the house:

The 1965 Ford Family of Cars brochure

Fancy a drive down memory lane?

More from the Eames Institute

We discussed the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity back in April, but Metropolis magazine has published an extensive article covering a visit to the Institute.

Modernism has largely been diluted from a series of ideas rooted in social change to one of just style—Instagram moments, if you will. The Eameses insisted that they did not have a style or even an “ism.” […] Modernism was an idea, not a style. With the establishment of the Eames Institute, I hope Charles and Ray will be remembered most of all for their ideas and processes.

Kenneth Caldwell, Metropolis
An exhibit at the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity.

With our ongoing struggle to use materials more efficiently, many of the Eameses’ ideas and ideals need to be taken for the solutions that they are: style with incredible substance.

Read the whole article at Metropolis. (Via ArchDaily.)

Beautifully Briefed [Updated]: Book Six-Fer, June ’22

A book design treat for your Monday morning: four of my favorite new book covers from last month’s debuts.

How To Be Eaten. Design by Julianna Lee.

Aged, distressed paper is a great look when done well, and this one hits all the right notes. The size relationship between the characters, the glow around the eyes, the two color choices, the type, all of it — great stuff.

Sedating Elaine. Design by Janet Hansen.

A veritable how-to on less-is-more. Brilliant.

Vladimir. Design by Katie Tooke.

Another solid-color triumph. Great font choice here, too. Awesome.

I’ve saved the best for last:

You Have a Friend in 10A. Design by Kelly Blair.

Great Circle has featured before, and this follow-up takes us inside the plane and into the safety brochure in the best possible way. Great, brilliant, and awesome wrapped into one.

Via LitHub and Spine, as usual. Have a good week!

Update, June 20th: WABE, Atlanta’s NPR station, has a summer reading list out, highlighting Georgia books and authors — and I’d like to include two of the covers here:

Invisible Child.

The grainy photograph, the wonderfully placed city skyline, and classic typography, combined with the diagonal cutline, elevate this title from mundane to eye-catching.

The Sweetness of Water.

Excellently distressed doesn’t begin to describe this, on many levels. Side note: it’s a terrible shame that the Oprah and Booker call-outs have been elevated to logo status in what can politely be described as a distraction (from a book designer’s point of view, at least).

Spring Book Design Coverage

For your May Day, please take a closer look at twelve great book covers — and a bonus thirteenth! — spotted during the first four months of 2022.

In alphabetical order:

Book design: David Drummond

Brilliant: actual text, printed (on a great color paper, too), with actual string, photographed on said print. Not only is it exactly right for the subject matter, it’s simply and beautifully done.

Cover design: Brianna Harden

Another great background color choice, this time highlighting the awesome colors chosen for Fiona and Jane’s illustrations. The hand-painted text is perfectly done.

Cover design: Vi-An Nguyen

Woodcut or just aged? Doesn’t matter, as “brilliant” falls short when describing this title.

Cover design: Alex Merto

From It’s Nice That, we have a nice feature on Alex Merto — whose Ghost Wall cover is a great example of plant life adding so much more: “the force of a river to the head,” to paraphrase Emma Donoghue’s quote.

Cover design: Anna Morrison

The typography, awesome little plane — the purse(r)! — the clouds, all of it: sky-high levels of good.

Interestingly, Fight Night‘s cover has gotten notice before:

Cover design: Patti Ratchford, illustration: Christina Zimpel

I can’t begin to imagine what caused the redesign, or why it wound up being so radically — 180 degree! — different. The old design wound up on some “best covers” lists (here’s LitHub’s October 2021 post, for instance); the new one has wound up on mine.

Cover design: Christopher Sergio

LitHub says this one has a very high “hang on the wall” factor. I can’t think of a better description — great stuff.

Cover design: Na Kim

Na Kim just can’t help but design the best covers: a wonderful, antique background complimented by brilliance. (Great typography, too.)

Cover design: Emily Mahon

It’s nigh-on impossibly to look at this cover and not flip it around to read the text trisecting the leopard. Take something simple, add the elusive more, get this. Yeah.

Cover design: Jim Tierney

Another fantastic example of plants adding more than the sum of their parts. The mottled green background and watercolor-style falloff is perfectly complimentary. Great stuff. (Except: This is one of those times when an editor or publicist somewhere says, “Hey, we need to add this quote at the top. Let’s do it without consulting the cover designer.”)

Cover designer … unknown. Credit where credit is due — when I can.

From the Banned Books Department, we have the 20th Anniversary edition of this difficult title rendered in a photo-based collage that’s nothing short of brilliant. Highest praise. Kudos, too, to Open Culture: The New York Public Library Provides Free Online Access to Banned Books: Catcher in the RyeStamped & More.

Cover design: Jack Smyth

Never mind the great brushed color blocks or boat-rowing-the-ocean above the title. This is here for the overlap between color and island. Shortlisted for the prize for intersection-of-the-year.

Cover design: Leanne Shapton

This illustration being in grayscale is, at first, a little off. But, of course, that’s exactly the point. I overuse “brilliant,” but it’s the best description. (See a note from the designer at LitHub‘s cover reveal.)

So, the bonus. No, it’s not the extra Fight Night, above, it’s a fictitious cover. That’s right:

Cover design: Anna Hoyle

In another It’s Nice That post, we have Anna Hoyle: “Judge her fake books by their comical covers.” Okay!

More book design updates soon — ’cause, here in Georgia, USA, we’re done with spring. Summer starts . . . now.

Additional sources: Spine, “Book Covers We Love” for January, February, March, and April, and LitHub, “Best Book Covers of the Month.”

I Swear, This Title….

Kottke recently revisited a theme that’s been running for a few years now: titles with a swear — f*ck, in this case — in the title. According to Slate, the practice stems from the 2011 parenting title Go the F*ck to Sleep, and has accelerated over the years.

I’m more interested in the design of such a title. Bookstores, advertisers, and publicists demand that the swear never be completely spelled out, but that doesn’t restrict great design ideas. Here are a few of my favorites:

Love the fork. (So to speak.)
The less-is-more approach.
Whales as sardines.
Interesting choice with the capitals, or lack thereof.

Note the over-arching theme: no, not that — the lack of photography. The vast majority of these titles are text based, supposedly because something competing with the swear would detract from the shock value. There’s a primary color thing going, too, probably for the same reason.

Most of the time:

Self-help, with style.

Something different for your day!

New Website. Finally.

Housekeeping news: I went back to having an actual website in June, 2019; for a few years, I’d just used a photography hosting service, as photography was the vast majority of what I did. However, when book design again became an important-enough part of my work, I wanted to have a space to talk about it. I bought a WordPress template, added photographs, and posted it.

…But I never really liked it. From the beginning, I felt y’all deserved more: better typography, better photography, better everything. Like so many, however, one’s own stuff is always at the bottom of the to-do list. No longer.

I’d like to introduce the new version:

The new gileshoover.com, January, 2022

There were a few bumps getting here (naturally, I broke everything along the way; to say I don’t code is an understatement!), but with some tweaking notwithstanding, the new gileshoover.com is live. It’s got all-original photography, matched sans and serif font superfamily (Merriweather by Sorkin Type, a Google Font), much faster response time, open-source foundations, and so on.

Note that entries on Foreword are best seen individually, as you’ll see bigger photographs (or illustrations, graphics, etc.). Click on entry titles to get there.

Please explore.

University Press Design Show 2021

AUPresses 2021 Show header

From AUPresses:

“Since 1965, the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) Book, Jacket, and Journal Show has fulfilled its mission to “honor and instruct”: honoring the design and production teams whose work furthers a long tradition of excellence in book design […]. The Book, Jacket, and Journal Show recognizes meritorious achievement in design, production, and manufacture of books, jackets, covers, and journals by members of the university press community. It also provides an evaluation of their work and serves as a focus of discussion and a source of ideas for intelligent, creative, and resourceful bookmaking.”

Credit where credit is due: Spine, in their excellent way, has already covered this. Head on over there, knowing that I largely agree with their post in its entirety. However, there are a number of covers I like that they didn’t talk about — and they didn’t talk about interior design at all.

So, without further ado, let’s start with the covers and jackets. Interiors follow, then items that are in both categories.

Columbia University Press with a series (in order, top to bottom): Woe from Wit, The Little Devil and Other Stories, and Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow. Each is great on their own, but put ’em together and the series stands tall. Excellent design by Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich.

Performing Jane

Louisiana State University brings us Performing Jane, with design by Barbara Neely Bourgoyne. Simplicity wins.

Inside the Critic's Circle

On the subject of simplicity, Inside the Critic’s Circle brings a seemingly-casual-yet-carefully-designed newspaper clipping onto a yellow background. Together, they’re attention-getting and just right. Nice. Design by Chris Ferrante for Princeton University Press.

Vénus Noire is about as far from a bust as can be — except not really:

Venus Noire

Another example of simpler-is-better, yet something so much more. Design by Kaelin Chappell Broaddus.

Stars and Silhouettes

Wayne State University Press brings us Stars and Silhouettes, in all its hand-drawn glory. Love the design by Brad Norr.

My favorite of the stand-alone cover designs, however, contains a wrinkle or two:

The Duchess of Angus

Lovely. The illustration and paper photograph combine into something really special. Design by Derek Thornton — whose website, by the way, has a bunch of other great stuff. Nice!

On to some interior design, with Pinceton’s Dante:

Dante's Interior

Puts “boring academic title [page]” to rest. Design by Chris Ferrante.

Next, a title on “knowing what not to know in contemporary China”, called Negative Spaces:

Negative Spaces 1
Negative Spaces 2

Design by Courtney Leigh Richardson for Duke University Press.

Next, stories from “the people of the land”:

Gwitchin 1
Gwitchin 2

Our Whole Gwich’in Way of Life Has Changed / Gwich’in K’yuu Gwiidandài’ Tthak Ejuk Gòonlih, with design by Alan Brownoff for the University of Alberta Press.

Next, a couple where both the cover and interior excel, starting with Horace Kephart from the University of Tennessee Press:

Horace 1

UTenn Press has a cool logo, too.

Horace 2
Horace 3

Lovely detailing in this design by Mindy Basinger Hill. Only one question here: Why doesn’t the script on the cover match that used inside? Both are nice — I prefer the one used on the cover — but either way, pick one!

Last but certainly not least, perhaps the best designed of all the projects in the AUPresses 2021 Show, Duke’s Sentient Flesh:

Sentient 1

Fantastic. And check the interior:

Sentient 2
Sentient 3

Kudos to designer Matthew Tauch for a “best in show,” at least as far as I’m concerned!

50 Books, 50 Covers

50 Books 50 Covers

It’s time once again for AIGA’s 50 Books, 50 Covers:

This time-honored competition aims to identify the 50 best-designed books and book covers. With 696 entries from 36 countries, the juror-selections from this year’s 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2020 competition exemplify the best current work from a year marked by unparalleled change.

Picking favorites from this list is always fun, and often includes books and/or covers that I haven’t seen before — especially 2020, when seeing things in person was often … difficult. So without further ado (in no particular order):

Accidentally Wes Anderson

The unique destinations of Accidentally Wes Anderson. This 50 Books item catches the eye with the cover and the photographs carry you inside and to places heretofore unknown. Great stuff. Design by Mia Johnson.

Manifesto - Cover

Manifesto is more than meets the eye, even though the cover does an excellent job leading you in. It’s easier to quote the existing description than write one, so: “The opening pages contain an original text employing the sort of bombastic rhetoric traditionally associated with the manifesto genre. The typeset text is then cut up and reassembled, repeating throughout the book, each iteration becoming source material for subsequent cut-ups. The project takes a critical approach to book arts to explore authorship, readership, and the materiality of language.” Yeah:

Manifesto - interior

It’s tiny, too: 4.125 by 6. The design, by Victor Mingovits, is anything but. Well done!

DR. ME

Not Dead of Famous Enough, Yet compiles 10 years of work from a design firm into one place, with this surprisingly modest cover. DR. ME, as the duo of Ryan Doyle & Mark Edwards became known, not only do quality work, they know how to stitch together a quality book — to a point where they picked up a prestigious award. See more.

Talking Animals

Talking Animals violates one of my usual cover-design rules: it’s not immediately apparent which title word is first. Nonetheless, it’s eye-catching enough to warrant an exception — and a 50 Covers award. Design by Na Kim.

Self Portrait with Russian Piano

Na Kim makes another appearance with Self Portrait with Russian Piano. Kudos for something that’s equally eye-catching yet about as completely different as humanely possible — talent, defined.

Sestry

“Eye-catching and mysterious,” says the entry for Sestry. “Oppressive and mysterious,” says the description. Both work — it’s certainly mysterious enough to catch your attention, grab it off the shelf, and investigate further. Design by Jan Šabach.

I Lived on Mars

Once Upon a Time, I Lived on Mars: Space Exploration, and Life on Earth is a loooooong title/subtitle combination. It’s something that, as a cover designer, you dread — but Johnathan Bush knocked it out of the park with this hand-lettered illustrated piece that’s 180 degrees from where you’d expect.

The Turn of the Screw is probably my favorite of the whole collection:

Turn of the Screw

Almost simplistic … until you really look at it; the kind that makes you think, “I wish I’d done that.” Fantastic work by Kaitlin Kall.

Lastly, two covers previously mentioned here:

Verge

Verge, where unexpected choices lead to great new places here, especially with the yellow band overlaying the wolf. So, so good. Design by Rachel Willey. And:

Zo

Zo, which uses illustrations to huge effect — but this time with a huge typography effect to go along with it, and lo, it works. Great design choices by Janet Hansen.

Again, see the whole list at AIGA: 50 Books, 50 Covers. Props to Hyperallergic for the heads up.

Beautifully Briefed: Books, March 2021

Five book design items that caught my attention recently.

First, from ArtNet News. Prior to basically everything, Andy Warhol did this:

“The whimsical book was a collaboration with interior decorator Suzie Frankfurt, who wrote the ridiculous recipes, and the artist’s mother, Julia Warhola, who provided the calligraphy, replete with charming misspellings. [It] was the last of a number of books Warhol designed in the 1950s, before he shot to fame in 1962 with Pop art compositions featuring Campbell’s soup and Coca-Cola. Book design offered him a valuable creative outlet during the years he worked as a commercial illustrator.” See more.

The rest are from the New Yorker‘s “Briefly Noted” reviews — which, I’ll admit, inspired the title of this post. They pick four titles weekly, and while I’m sure many are great, actually great book design is rare. So to have four in two weeks … well, just had to say, “noted.” (The New Yorker is, of course, subscription — but there is a free account with limited options if you’d like to read their review.)

The first three are from the March 8th, 2021, issue, starting with In Memory of Memory:

The simplicity of the concentric rectangles — and “destination” dot — is mesmerizing.

Next, Cathedral:

Not a simple illustration in this case, and still an attention-getter in the background. Nice.

Next, my favorite of this set, The Weak Spot:

A very brief (176 page!) debut novel with hits-above-its-weight cover design. (Content, too, presumably…;)

Lastly, from the March 15th issue, Infinite Country:

Color and composition unite into something … infinitely good.

Enjoy.