By Kelly Carter
The ninth month is my birth month, so I’ve always considered it a lucky number. Nine is the number of states I want to live in before I die (I’ve done five so far). It’s the number of dogs I want to have at one time (I know, crazy, right?). Instead of moving or increasing our herd, I’ve decided to start blogging lists of nine.
As an avid reader, I’ve always thought the ultimate job would be for someone to pay me to read books all day. I wouldn’t want to edit them, because I’m not an editor. I wouldn’t want to review them, because I’m not a reviewer. As a designer, my second choice for an ultimate job would be for someone to pay me to read books every few days, then to design the covers in between.
Here are some of my favorite book cover designers, who do amazing work, some of which you’ve probably seen on the bestseller lists.
1. Chip Kidd
If you haven’t heard of him or seen Chip’s work, you are missing out. Not only has this guy been designing award-winning book covers for Knopf for nearly 30 years, and other publishers such as Penguin and HarperCollins, he is also a writer of both fiction and nonfiction. Kidd is a sought after public speaker, with presentations like Ted Talks under his belt. Not too shabby. Pictured below: 1Q84, Naked, Dry.
Peter is another book cover designer who has been around for awhile and whose work you may very well recognize from your own bookshelf. As associate art director of Alfred A. Knopf Books, art director of Pantheon Books and Vertical Press, Mendelsund’s work often achieves a complex elegance in its simplicity. He is also a best-selling author. Pictured below: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, My Prizes; An Accounting, The Flame Alphabet.
3. Helen Yentus
Helen is art director of Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin, creates amazing covers that lean heavily on typography, or the manipulation or interaction of type and image. Her use of hand crafted titles, using tangible objects, successfully conveys the aura of the book, without giving too much away. Pictured below: Eat Pray Love, The Innovator’s Cookbook, Boy, Snow, Bird.
4. Jason Booher
As art director of Blue Rider Press, Jason Booher’s graphic covers hark back to an age when graphic design was still fairly new, but powerful in its simplicity and style. His designs are sometimes offbeat, sometimes provocative, but always intriguing. Pictured below: All Men Are Liars, The Perfect Kill, The Art of Immersion.
5. Sara Wood and 6. Jim Tierney
This husband and wife team are the new power couple of book covers. Sara Wood, senior designer at HarperCollins, is an illustrator and designer whose eye-catching work conveys its beauty through her colorful and artistic creations. Pictured below: The Fair Fight, The Rainbow, The Bees.
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Jim Tierney’s illustrations and hand lettering have graced the front of many literary classics, giving them an almost fairytale quality that is both refreshing and fun. Pictured below: The Alchemist, The Dead Zone, The Wee Free Men.
7. Matt Roeser
Matt is senior book designer at children’s publisher Candlewick Press. His graphically simple and original designs have helped elevate juvenile literature to a whole new level. Pictured below: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Juvie, Evil Librarian.
8. Alex Merto
Alex creates book covers for Farrar, Straus and Giroux, where he is currently a designer, as well other publishers such as Penguin and Random House. His work is clean and colorful, using typography in a way that is innovative and emotional. Pictured below: Gamelife, The Sound of Things Falling, Worst Person Ever.
Coralie is a designer at Penguin Books and she first stormed onto the scene with her charming spin on classic book design for Penguin Classics clothbound series. Based on Victorian bindings, her covers are beautiful as standalones, as well a collection. Bickford-Smith also authored and illustrated her first book last year. The Fox and the Star is a delightful children’s book that is sure to become a bedtime staple. Pictured below: Bleak House, The Spook House, The Great Gatsby.
This list is only the tip of the iceberg that is the talented and enduring culture of current day book designers. Keep your eye peeled for future lists of equally impressive artistic publishings.