Working Backwards: A New Illustration Series. Part One.

Book Cover, Illustration, Series -

Working Backwards: A New Illustration Series. Part One.

I recently asked my friends (via Facebook) what the title of their autobiography would be.

I was interested to hear what people felt about their own life story. Storytelling has always been, to me, the essential core element in effective design. Design is the creative facilitation of communication, and the most effective (and affective) form of communication is stories.

These titles make a great illustration challenge of creating a book cover for each of these evocative titles. I have always admired the covers of the old Penguin books and decided to adopt some of those stylistic elements to create a template to give some consistency to these illustrations. The following are the first 4 illustrations in this series. With more to come. If you'd like to see your cover illustrated, get in touch or leave a comment below.

No. 001 - Stories of Mishap, Coincidence, Shenanigans, and Ridiculousness by Kimberly Murphy.

This title, to me, was all about connections and events. I really liked all the descriptive words and syllables used for this title. It spoke about a long, winding path that weaved between and through and over and around events in a life. I wanted to contrast the paths we choose for ourselves and the paths life chooses for us. To achieve this I selected an image of a young tree I had taken on a walk one day. It had a vine curling along its young trunk and in the framing of the shot the branches crossed all over the photo. I then added a network of lines and dots around and through and over and under to represent another set of paths and connection. The contrast of nature and artifice communicates my goal to highlight the struggle between our own intentions for our destiny, and the natural force of time.

No. 002 - A Traveling Wilbury by James McGuire

This one is a classic road story to me. A musical version of On The Road. Since it is an autobiography I wanted to focus not on the road, or the setting, so much, but the agency of the author, the "vehicle", of the narrative. Using a van that has such connection to roadtrips and a certain era of personal exploration and fantastic music, I created a frame around the image of a road. The point of James tale (in my imagination) isn't focused on the events, but his particular journey through them and how they affected him.

No. 003 - Stay Wild by Rebecca Mae Pixley

I loved this title. (Disclaimer: I love all the titles. Equally. Just like a lying parent). Two simple words and each word meaning a great deal. Stay. Wild. Stay: keeping still, being at peace, in control and present. Wild: out of control, exploration, and wild abandon. The implied space between this two concepts is what inspired me most. I wanted to work with a little more colour than the previous covers so I used a great piece of stock photography and masked it out with a gritty paintbrush. To me this really expressed the wild but I was stumped for the stay. A simple geometric shape fit the bill for this cover and when I placed it over the image it really showed off the great energy in a title like "Stay Wild".

No. 004 - Madly Off In All Directions by Erin Boyce

This title to me spoke of freedom, and the path through life that is blessed with many, many discoveries and epiphanies. I wanted to work with symbols of journeys and freedom, but also create a chaotic feeling that I think really makes the title fun and interesting. I overlapped photos of airplanes and birds and connected them at interesting angles to create a chaotic shape that to me exemplifies the titles strength: the chaotic nature of freedom.

Check back soon for a new set of titles! And if you see your name on a book cover above, time to get writing!

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