Under the Covers: PRINT Magazine Article

I read the article “The Painted Book” by Peter Terzian from this selection from PRINT Magazine. The article describes how artists have been looking back to classic book cover designs from the 20th century as inspiration. Some artists have gone as far as to paint some of them as works of art. One quote I found interesting from the beginning of the article describes how the designers are going back to these designs in the age of modern technology.

“It’s surely no coincidence that artists are choosing the book as a subject in this era of new reading technologies. But these paintings are too joyous and affectionate to be memento mori for the printed word. “I think books as objects are beginning to mean more to people,” says artist and designer Leanne Shapton.”

Terzian goes on to look at several artists who have created older looking book covers. One of the artists he analyzes is Richard Baker. Baker describes some of the books he painted recently are books from his youth that he enjoyed reading and looking at.

“For Baker, books are “pneumonic devices that recall whole periods of time.” His paintings are deeply nostalgic, and his viewers often describe, he says, “a sense of loss or a euphoric memory.” What began as a personal homage to his one-time favorites evolved into a communal project when friends began to suggest titles—the series now encompasses everything from a Signet paperback of “Octopussy” to a board book of “Good Morning, Miff y.” “I feel like a conduit,” he says, “allowing the social conversation to blossom in what books I’m painting.”

Overall this article was an interesting read. The way Terzian set up the article was interesting to me,  and the way the paintings of the book covers were shown blended into the design of the page the article was on.




Peter Mendelsund NPR Interview Reaction


(Photo from New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/portrait-cover-artist-interview-peter-mendelsund)

“I’m very heartened these days to find, in fact, people still really want physical books.”

“I’m very interested in what the authors project is.” From the beginning of this NPR interview, Peter Mendelsund is describing how he designs a cover for a book. Mendelsund is very articulate in the interview, describing how a book designer needs to make a visually appealing cover in order for the book to be sold. I agree with his statement that a book cover needs to be like a movie billboard or an advertisement billboard. The book cover represents how the book will look to the people that are purchasing the book, and it needs to be visually appealing to stand out in a store/marketplace.

“Dead authors get the best book jackets.”

“I make the design. I print it out. I wrap it around a book. I leave it on my bookshelf face out, and then I willfully try to forget about it. One of the things about making anything is in order to discern whether what you’ve made is working or not, you need some objectivity. You need some distance from it.” I feel that this sums up the whole interview because as a book designer, Mendelsund gives some basic advice on how to design a book cover, and how he has to print it out and look at it on a shelf, like someone purchasing the book would.

“I think there are two primary jobs that a jacket has to do: It has to represent a text and it has to sell it.”

I enjoyed listening to this interview, it gave me a whole new perspective on looking at book covers.

Chip Kidd: Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is. (TED Talk Reaction)


(Image source: YouTube)

Chip Kidd is a unique character. It is clear from the beginning of the video from the way he dresses, speaks, and his personality, he is a very unique person. But, he makes some excellent points about book design and graphic design. At the beginning of the talk, Chip asks the audience this question: What does the story look like? Chip then goes onto state about how the book designer needs to give balance to the content in the book.


The first example Kidd gives are two biographies he designed (photo below). One of them was Marlene Dietrich, and the other was Katharine Hepburn. He describes how Dietrich’s book was written as an observational style, while the Hepburn biography was written in a style that made it sound like she was sitting across from you having a conversation.



(Image source: http://www.cynergiestudio.com/chip-kidd-book-designer/)

I think this design is very clever because of the way he used the photograph of Dietrich, and the simple text on the cover of Hepburn’s book makes it seem like it is a very text heavy book. The photo on the Dietrich book is probably one of my favorite features in this series of designs because in a way it looks slightly faded, which gives the element of aging.

One of my favorite designs Chip Kidd did was the Jurassic Park book cover. The design was so well done it was used in the movie logo. The typography could be slightly improved in my opinion, but thats only a small detail. The tracing of the dinosaur adds to the book, making it pop out to someone wanting to buy it.


(image source: Wikipedia article about Jurassic Park)

Kidd may come off to some people as a bit over the top and crazy, but his personality is clearly reflected in his designs. I feel he is an excellent designer due to his personality. For more on Chip Kidd or to check out his designs, click here!