Monday, February 08, 2010

authorship and design

From my experience of working in the publishing industry, it can be a mixed blessing when an author offers to lend a hand in the design of a book cover. Often, the author's ideas can act as a springboard which helps bring about a really unique, or apt, design. Equally, an author's dogmatic or unrealistic expectations can lead to many a fraught conversation. Either way, I enjoyed reading this account of Orhan Panuk's input in the design process, from the Guardian.

"Like his earlier melancholic memoirs of his Turkish childhood and youth, the front of Orhan Pamuk's latest novel, The Museum of Innocence, draws the eye with a sepia-tinted image evoking the romance of bygone Istanbul. But at the Southbank's Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, the Nobel-prizewinning author raised smiles with the tale of his use of technology to enhance the appeal of the cover photograph of the new book. The picture, featuring an open-top car containing three smiling women and two men, the latter with hair gelled back in 1950s fashion, was originally bought by the writer from a website he called "the Turkish eBay". There was just one problem: its backdrop was that of woodland somewhere in Turkey's interior. Pamuk explained how he had used Photoshop to resolve the issue. With a few mouse clicks, the car and its occupants were transported to the Bosphorus, the busy shipping lane running through Istanbul, complete with familiar minarets on a facing shore. Graphics wizards at Faber later introduced burn marks to the top half of the image. Pamuk also revealed that there had been worries about what the car's unknown occupants would make of their unwitting cover stardom. There was relief, however, when one of the women, pictured in a headscarf, was traced. A photo was sent to him showing her, now aged 88, happily holding the novel. Whether other authors take such a hands-on approach to the design of their book covers is unclear. However, for Pamuk, a self-described "repressed artist" who once harboured ambitions to forge a career with a brush, doing so must be particularly satisfying".


Ben said...

Ha! I know exactly what you mean when it comes to book cover design. In my experience, though, all too often it's a struggle - either because the suggested images are too dull, or because the design ideas are crap. And let's not forget perhaps the most terrifying words an author can utter: "My son/daughter's a graphic designer and s/he says..."

Powerful Pierre said...

I read that too - it is a nice cover. Shame the book itslf is so dull - I've given up reading it. Shame, as I've loved his other books.