Edel Rodriguez
British-Protected Child

This is a new cover the series of books by Chinua Achebe I've been working on.  I did the hand lettering as well, some of the additional sketches are below. 
"Chinua Achebe's characteristically eloquent and nuanced voice is everywhere present in these seventeen beautifully written pieces.  From a vivid portrait of growing up in colonial Nigeria to considerations on the African-American diaspora, from a glimpse into his extraordinary family life and his thoughts on the potent symbolism of President Obama's election—this charmingly personal, intellectually disciplined, and steadfastly wise collection is an indispensable addition to the remarkable Achebe oeuvre."
Arrow of God
Arrow of God is a new addition to the series of book covers I've been working on for the Nigerian author Chinua Achebe.  The books are published by Random House/Vintage.  Some of the others can be seen here.
Arrow of God takes up the ongoing struggle between continuity and change.  It is a powerful drama about the downfall of a traditional leader in a society forever altered by colonialism.  Ezeulu, the chief priest of several Nigerian villages, is a prominent member of the Igbo people.  So prominent, in fact, that he is invited to join the British colonial administration.  But when he refuses to be a "white man's chief" and is thrown in jail, Ezeulu's influence begins to wane, as the resentful decisions he makes from prison have adverse effects on his people.
Series of sketches
Final art

A Man of the People
"A Man of the People" is part of the series of covers I've been working on for the re-issues of Chinua Achebe's books.  The story is about corruption and violence within the Nigerian political establishment.  I've been doing the hand lettering for the series as well.  Working with John Gall and Helen Yentus at Random House/ Anchor Books.  More sketches below.

"In Chinua Achebe's novel, A Man of the People, two contrasting groups of people from a political and social aspect based in West Africa.  The groups are the old and the new generations of politics and two characters represent them.  Odili, the narrator, represents the new intellectual generation, while Chief Nanga, Odili’s former teacher, represents the old style of bush politicians.  The conflict between the old and new ways is portrayed through the two characters as they not only disagree and quarrel over political views but also women.  The story ends with a military coup that foreshadows the Nigerian Revolution of 1966.  "Chinua Achebe proved to be a better prophet than any of the political scientists"(K.W.J. Post, xiii).  Achebe captures the inside reality of the lives of the contrasting characters as he demonstrates energy and brightness as well as violence and corruption."
Final art
Anthills of the Savannah
Anthills of the Savannah is part of the series of Chinua Achebe book covers I've been working on.  There will be a total of 10 covers—novels, along with collected essays and poems.  I've been working with John Gall and Helen Yentus at Random House on these.

"In the fictional West African nation of Kangan, newly independent of British rule, the hopes and dreams of democracy have been quashed by a fierce military dictatorship.  Chris Oriko is a member of the cabinet of the president for life, one of his oldest friends.  When the president is charged with censoring the oppositionist editor of the state-run newspaper—another childhood friend—Chris's loyalty and ideology are put to the test.  The fate of Kangan hangs in the balance as tensions rise and a devious plot is set in motion to silence a firebrand critic."

Final art

Girls at War
This image is a for the book cover of "Girls at War and Other Stories" by Chinua Achebe.  Part of the series of covers I've been working on for his books.  The book is a collection of short stories about life in Nigeria.  One of my favorite aspects of Achebe's writing are the titles he chooses for his books.  In his titles he says so much with very few words and those words are often what stays in my mind while I come up with ideas for the covers—"Things Fall Apart", "Hopes and Impediments", "Girls at War".

Girls at War and Other Stories reveals the essence of life in Nigeria and traces twenty years in the literary career of one of this century's most acclaimed writers. In this collection of stories, which displays an astonishing range of experience, Chinua Achebe takes us inside the heart and soul of a people whose pride and ideals must compete with the simple struggle to survive. Hailed by critics everywhere, Chinua Achebe's fiction re-creates with energy and authenticity the major issues of daily life in Africa.

Sketches for Girls at War
Hand lettering
Final book cover
Hopes and Impediments
This is a new cover for the series of books by Chinua Achebe I've been working on.   The book is a collection of essays about the reconciliation between blacks and whites after centuries of fighting in Africa and the New World.  I'm also doing the hand lettering on the titles for the series.  Working with Helen Yentus and John Gall at Random House.  More sketches below.

Hopes and Impediments is a collection of essays that spans Achebe's writing and lectures over the course of his career, from his groundbreaking and provocative essay on Joseph Conrad and Heart of Darkness to his assessments of the novelist's role as a teacher and of the truths of fiction.  Achebe reveals the impediments that still stand in the way of open, equal dialogue between Africans and Europeans, between blacks and whites, but also instills us with hope and they will soon be overcome.

Sketches for Hopes and Impediments
Final art
Cover for "The House on Mango Street" by Sandra Cisneros
This is a  cover I did for the 25th anniversary edition of “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros, published by Random House.   The book has sold over two million  copies since it’s first publication in 1984.  It has been translated in various languages and has become required reading in schools across the country. Here is a synopsis from wikipedia: “The House on Mango Street is a coming-of-age novella.  It deals with a young Latina girl, Esperanza Cordero, growing up in the Chicago Chicano ghetto. Esperanza is determined to "say goodbye" to her impoverished Latino neighborhood. Not all readers may be able to identify with Esperanza's world in which everyone in the large family sleeps in one room, men prey on young girls, and husbands and fathers mistreat their children.   Major themes include her quest for a better life and the importance of her promise to come back for "the ones I left behind."

John Gall was the art director for this project, he's always great to work with.  I've been a fan of his book covers for a while.   Although the book has been one of their popular titles, the editors at Random wanted to update the cover for the 25th anniversary edition.  I was first introduced to some of my favorite illustrations by the books I read in school, so I always feel some pressure when I work on book covers.   Hence, the endless sketching which you can see below.
We ended up going with the hand lettered cover approach.   I went ahead and lettered all of the type and tried a number of color variations, finally going with the blue sky and red building version.   At some point I also added the girl inside the window. 
A Spanish edition of the book was also printed so I hand lettered that one as well.  The English version is available here and the Spanish version is available here.
'Things Fall Apart' Book Cover
Last year I was commissioned by Random House to create a series of covers for the paperback reissues of books by the African author Chinua Achebe.  The first book I've finished is Things Fall Apart.

A description from Amazon:  "Things Fall Apart is a relentlessly unsentimental rendering of Nigerian tribal life before and after the coming of colonialism. First published in 1958, just two years before Nigeria declared independence from Great Britain, the book eschews the obvious temptation of depicting pre-colonial life as a kind of Eden. Instead, Achebe sketches a world in which violence, war, and suffering exist, but are balanced by a strong sense of tradition, ritual, and social coherence."
This is the final cover design.  I submitted a few hand lettering treatments for the cover and was happy to see that one of them was used by the designers working on the project (Helen Yentus and John Gall).  I enjoy hand lettering and try to introduce it into some of the projects I work on.
Some of the hand lettering and rough sketches for the cover are below:
Hand lettering
Rough sketches and ideas for the book cover
Recent Articles

Illustration | portraits (27)

Illustration | conceptual (25)

Illustration | culture (35)

Travel & Sketchbooks (8)

Work in Context (32)

Photography (40)

OP-ED (8)

Design Projects (27)



Sketches and Thumbnails (22)
Other Portfolios:
Other Stuff
Links to Articles
Table 'tutormill.side_ads' doesn't exist