Invisible Publishing has a reputation for producing striking, downright-rad cover designs, and one of their latest—H.B Hogan's This Keeps Happening—continues that trend. From a Toronto-in-the-eighties-inspired cover to one with repeat illustrations, the final version is one for the books. Today cover designer Megan Fildes (who, fun fact, designed our ALU logo!) graciously let us ask her some of our burning questions that led to the final drop-read gorgeous cover.
All Lit Up: Is there a particular challenge in designing a cover for a short story collection instead of a novel?
Megan Fildes: I think the biggest challenge in designing a cover for a short story collection is finding a way to represent the overarching feeling of the book. I believe you can still reference visuals from a single story on the cover, but you really have to find something that represents the cohesive element(s) in the collection. With This Keeps Happening, I went the other way—I decided to reference many stories on one cover. When reading the book, it felt like I was looking at a curio cabinet—all the pieces work together but have their own story to tell.
ALU: What elements struck you about the story? What did you end up incorporating into the design?
MF: There is a dark humour throughout the book. I really appreciate the balance between the grotesque and violent nature of humanity, and the familiarity and comfort of nostalgia. I was definitely struck by the eviscerated squirrel in one of the stories—I think it started the gears moving in my head (how can I get this squirrel on the cover?!).
ALU: Did author H.B. Hogan have any directions for the cover?
MF: There were no explicit directions from the author, however we always try to work with the authors closely. Often when we are publishing someone's first book, I want to make sure that they have something they’re proud of and represents them. I give "homework" at the beginning of the process, which is comprised of a series of questions that help me see the book through their eyes. I also ask them to provided 5-10 print-based visuals that really stand out to them. Folks have a subconscious aesthetic that starts to come through when you’re looking at the images they’ve picked. H.B. Hogan did one extra step and provided some design trends they didn’t like—it was super helpful.
ALU: Can you tell us a little bit about your type choices for the cover?
MF: Often when I use an illustration on a cover, I like to use a hand-drawn or hand-altered font. However, for This Keeps Happening, I felt that a clean sans-serif would offset the sketchiness of the illustrations. The trouble was finding a typeface that still felt warm enough that it wouldn’t feel out of place. After a lot of trial and error, I found Acumin, designed by Robert Slimbach. While it is a neo-grotesque typeface, it has a very subtle humanist feeling that softens its overall look.
ALU: Were there any other contending cover ideas for this book? If so, how did this design win out?
MF: I had created a couple other covers that were in the running—one involved a stacked collage of Toronto in the '80s and another involved a repeat of a simple illustration of a house. While I felt both covers portrayed the constriction and isolation that many of the characters felt, they didn’t really represent any of the dark humour or readability of the stories. They felt too serious. Truthfully, I was fully gunning for the cover we went with from the beginning. I had originally done a rough sketch that won out with both Invisible Publisher Leigh Nash and H.B. Hogan. I had a lot of fun flexing my illustrative skills and pulling so many specific moments out of the book. Once I got the illustrations down, I went giddy with colour variations.
ALU: You design a majority of the covers for Invisible Publishing's books. Are there any special considerations when designing covers not only for each book, but also for the Invisible brand as a whole?
MF: I can tell you that my biggest concern is that we don’t end up with a bunch of covers that look like each other. I think this can be a struggle for any creative—finding the difference between repeating yourself and finding an aesthetic. It’s pretty easy to subconsciously repeat visuals, especially when you come across similar themes. Other than an expectation of quality, I don’t think we necessarily try to create a brand look when it comes to the covers. Our branding strengths appear in the consistencies we adhere to on the back cover and the interior of the book.
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Thanks so much to
Megan Fildes for these thoughtful answers to our questions and for supplying the images. Thanks also to Julie Wilson at Invisible Publishing for making the connection.
This Keeps Happening is available now.
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