Only 335 days until the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Faber and Faber in London called for a book jacket design for the updated “Story of the World Cup” by the legendary English football writer Brian Glanville. Art Director Alex Kirby asked for a vintage poster vibe that integrated the lettering into the image. This piece owes a lot to the great Joseph Binder.
I get a call from Farrar, Straus & Giroux to design a book jacket for a novel by Jonathan Rabb that is set in Berlin around 1930. The story centers around a detective and a murder at the Ufa movie studios; the legendary director Fritz Lang is a character in the book. The whole thing reeks of German-noir and Ludwig Hohlwein, and the art director is thinking about something with echoes of Lang’s Metropolis poster.
Fritz Lang movie posters
I send this sketch, everyone likes it, and we try three or four variations of the guy at the bottom. I like to handle all the typography on a project when I can, and on this jacket, for a little joke, I add a small logo that mimics the Ufa logo and uses the initials of the publisher, FSG.
The design is a wrap-around image that shows nighttime Berlin on the back cover. I send off the file and look forward to seeing the book on the shelves in the spring.
A couple of weeks go by, and I get another call informing me that the editors are uncomfortable with the lettering, and they’ve decided to go with this version that uses a straight deco-ish font.
I go downstairs and order a gimlet.
Last year I get a call from Random House in London for two Ernest Hemingway paperback covers for the Vintage series. They have a basic cover format using Gill Sans and Bodoni and they want me to create simple images that look like they fit the period of each book. Death in the Afternoon and The Old Man and The Sea. What could go wrong? I send two pencil sketches each, they pick the ones they like, I finish them up and send them off. Everybody's happy, I get paid and look forward to seeing the printed books.
Finished cover I sent for The Old Man and The Sea
A few months pass, and I think, "I wonder if those books are in the stores yet?" I'll check the UK Amazon site and take a look. They're listed...but something looks odd.
Finished covers issued by Random House
It seems like the art director or someone at RH thought the covers needed that little something extra to make them look "Vintage." I need a drink.