Book Jacket Design — The FINAL Jackets

Here they are! “The Antelope Wife” design is inspired by the metaphor of beading throughout the novel.  Beading is a traditional Native American cultural practice and art.  In the beginning of the novel, a sort-of folklore/lesson is used in conjunction with beading to represent the ongoing battle between good and evil in our lives.  Twins–one “good” and one “bad” are constantly sewing beads in a race to out-bead the other; back and forth they bead on a never ending medium. The novel is also about fate and the repercussions of one person’s decisions and how they affect everyone else.  In this novel, it is specifically how one event has shaped a few characters, but ultimately rippled through the following generations. The color scheme for the design is made up of earthy brown and [olive-y] green, obviously representing the Native American connection to the natural world.  They are also darker colors because this book is not always the happiest of novels.  In addition, Louise Erdrich wrote wrote this book shortly after her husband, Michael Dorris, committed suicide.  A few of her characters die in the novel, and one has a suicide attempt. With that in mind, I tried to make a family tree out of beadwork to represent the generations of family in a traditional Native American medium.  And, I also wanted some of the beadwork to be disrupted in some way and have it affect the rest of the tree.  BUT, my design was too complicated and I decided to just create a tree out of the beadwork and have the design unraveling.

Book Jacket

“Antelope Wife” book jacket re-design by Lindsey L. Johnson

The second book cover is a little bit happier and brighter because I wanted to make a more inviting book cover.  As with Erdrich’s other novel this one begins with a twist of fate.  The main character receives a surprise package from his grandmother, he decided to move home to the reservation– a move that seals his fate and the fate of the other characters.    I created the graphic first, and decided that it lent itself to some brighter colors.  I also like the irony of bright, happy colors (eluding to too-good-to-be-true happiness) for this otherwise tough and truthful real-life scenarios.  The font for both novels is “Plantagenet Cherokee.”  I mainly chose the font because I really liked how the font looked, but I also had to use it simply as nod to another Native American tribe.

Book Jacket_2

“Bingo Palace” book jacket re-design by Lindsey L. Johnson


Book Jacket Design – Skillshare videos

After watching and listening to Chip Kidd’s TED Talk and Peter Mendelsund’s NPR interview, I was asked to watch additional Skillshare videos on either designer.  Disclaimer: I am not entirely sure if I did this correctly because I was not able to watch the other videos in the series for each designer without paying, so I just watched the free introductory videos for each designer.

Chip Kidd’s video was a little like a commercial for me, and not as helpful per say in creating a book jacket but gave some great insight into the field of graphic design saying, “you are only as good as the next thing you are working on.” priase hands emoji I think this is a great piece of advice for ANY individual but is especially true for an artist.

Here is Chip Kidd’s Skillshare video.

I felt that the Peter Mendelsund Skillshare video was a better resource for learning more about book jacket design because he gave insight into the field of book jacket design, how to interpret the text and other visual materials surrounding you, most importantly, how to succeed at the job.  I had never really considered gathering (or in his words, “stealing”) the things that I like and I think are examples of successful design in order to study it and figure out how to replicate the idea.  I might give that a try and hopefully not get caught “gathering for research purposes.”

Here is Peter Mendelsund’s Skillshare video.

Book Jacket Design — Inspirations

For the book jacket design project, I began to read and formulate some ideas for The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich.  The plot is somewhat complex from jumping back and forth in time and between different characters, but as the book heats up I find that there is a general underlying metaphor that I can work with.  I am taking more of a Chip Kidd approach for designing the book jacket as opposed to a Peter Mendlesund approach in that I don’t think this novel has one defining moment to represent the entire novel as a whole.

Throughout the novel, the idea of family and fate are all connected through the ancient Native American practice of beading.  All of the characters and the choices they make are affected by the choices of their ancestors, whether or not they are aware of them.  Erdrich writes, “everything is all knotted up in a tangle. Pull one string of this family and the whole web will tremble.”

The book cover that I’ve dreamed up in my mind is one of a pair of hands beading a family tree.  So I began searching for a pair of hands, Native American bead work, family tree diagrams, and images of Native American women (since the story is mostly based on women).  Here are some of the things that I have found:

Cahto_woman_curtismosa-mojave-indian_dae90e4f-77dd-4618-84bd-f2387ebe99d9 sewing hands

I found a few good images, but I was mostly fascinated with the images of Native American women.  One in particular stood out; she is the actress who played Pocahontas in the 2005 film The New World, Q’orianka Kilcher.  The director of photography did an amazing job because the pictures of her are stunning and are slowly helping me to form a very different kind of book jacket, but I do not have any set ideas about this one yet.

pocahontas_running pocahontas_hood pocahontas_field pocahonntas sketch pocahontas_2 pocahontas

Mendelsund vs. Kidd

In class, we watched a TED Talk featuring Chip Kidd, and listened to an NPR radio interview with Peter Mendelsund to help understand book jacket design.

Chip Kidd TED Talk

Peter Mendelsund NPR Interview

Due to the nature of a video, Chip Kidd was able to show his examples of book jackets, whereas Peter Mendelsund spoke more generally about his creative process and the work of book jacket design.

Mendelsund describes creating an appropriate book jacket by finding the right moment from the text by marking up the text and finding a moment that could represent the text as a whole.  For each book jacket design  he creates nearly 100 versions. I am incredibly surprised by this because I could not imagine making so many versions.  My creative process is more along the lines of continually improving one or two ideas, not tens of ideas! But what he said had a lot a value to it because the right moment might be hard to define, and then to capture it perfectly in only one or two covers must be even more challenging.

Chip Kidd’s message was more straightforward than Mendelsund’s because Kidd was not being asked the questions, rather showing examples of his work, his creative process, and asking the audience to think about design.  I appreciated seeing Kidd’s book jacket designs, particularly “Dry.”  The irony perfectly summed up the book without much extrapolating on the viewers behalf. He isn’t necessarily treating his audience as a “moron” (in his own words), but I think the message is undeniably clear.

Between both designers I was surprised to realize how much of the book jacket design comes from the Graphic Designer’s interpretation of the text.  I don’t mean just they’re understanding, but an analytical point of view.  Both Mendelsund and Kidd are extremely proficient and eloquent with they’re speech which is a good indicator (to me) that they are good readers (obviously) and good writers.  I would expect someone who reads books all day to eventually learn good writing, grammar, etc.– but the type of analysis that they were able to draw from the text amazed me.

SUNY Oneonta’s Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition — Part 3

Here is the SECOND version.

I decided that I needed to make some major changes in order to further my idea.  A better way of representing the students of the art program among other students on the campus was to create one bright, colorful and patterned umbrella in a grouping of other dark, monotone umbrellas.  I chose magenta and yellow because they are bright colors; and yellow specifically because I thought of the stereotypical and old fashioned yellow rain gear.

After creating all of the umbrellas and footprints I decided to create a sidewalk for the footprints and umbrellas to site on.  In doing so I also separated the textual components from the visual elements of the piece, and aids the viewer in the keeping the eye moving around the page.

I did not create a postcard (yet).  However, I created a horizontal version to help me think about how I will construct the postcard.  In all, I created three poster variations of THIS version.

CART 208 _Johnson_Poster_2-01

Lindsey L. Johnson, vertical poster design I (final submission)

CART 208 _Johnson_Poster_2-02

Lindsey L. Johnson, vertical poster design II

CART 208 _Johnson_Poster_2-03

Lindsey L. Johnson, horizontal poster design I

SUNY Oneonta’s Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition — Part 2

Below is the FIRST version of my poster and postcard.

My inspiration for the subject matter is two-fold.  The first component came from the idea of trying to capture all the different forms of art under into one common identity.  As previously explained in my earlier post, the metaphor of an umbrella popped into my head and I imagined the art department acting as an umbrella.  The second part of my idea plays on the joke that Oneonta weather is usually crummy ( i.e. precipitating) thus adding a more specific representation of students at THIS school instead of ANY school.

After creating the umbrellas, I decided that the shapes were too abstract on their own and needed some familiar shapes to help the viewer understand that they are umbrellas, so I added the faint footprints.  The idea of footprints also appealed to me as a way of representing people without showing people.

Poster:  Vertical and Horizontal

CART 308_Johnson_Poster

Lindsey L. Johnson, vertical and horizontal poster designs

CART 308_Johnson_Postcard

Lindsey L. Johnson, postcard: Front and Back

SUNY Oneonta’s Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition — Part 1

After setting up my blog for Advanced Graphic Design I am able to get started on using the blog to demonstrate my thought process and progress of each project.

To begin, here are some inspirational works that sparked an interest with me.  (The artists are unknown.)

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 2.09.15 PM

This one really got my attention immediately because the abstract, dimensional forms.  Upon digesting the colors, shapes, and shadows I realized that they were colored pyramids viewed from above.  Then I look around the poster to read the title, dates, etc.  I connected with this poster immediately because I like to create origami, and the pyramid forms remind me of origami.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 2.12.13 PM

I really enjoy this one because the pink colored squares remind me of post-it notes.  Sometimes when I brainstorm, or have to do a major research project I use post-it notes to write all of my thoughts, quotatations, etc. (and I am not alone) to organize the information.  To me, this poster demonstrates part of the creative process that all artists use or can use , thus unifying the different artists of the exhibition.

poster inspiration

AND my final piece of inspiration.  This is a background image to my friend’s laptop.  Again, the dimensional aspect stood out to me.  The shapes look like drink umbrellas to me, and the idea of an umbrella immediately struck me.  I realized that I could represent the Art Department as an umbrella, encompassing all forms of art.