Beautiful Books: Lost Animal Club

September 6, 2016

In this edition of Beautiful Books, NeWest Press's Claire Kelly interviews book designer  Kate Hargreaves, who worked on their new collection of short stories,  Lost Animal Club by Kevin A. Couture. See Kate's process on designing short story covers (versus fiction or nonfiction), the ins and outs of handlettering, and how to make your cat famous, one cover at a time.

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In this edition of Beautiful Books, NeWest Press's Claire Kelly interviews book designer Kate Hargreaves, who worked on their new collection of short stories,  Lost Animal Club by Kevin A. Couture. See Kate's process on designing short story covers (versus fiction or nonfiction), the ins and outs of handlettering, and how to make your cat famous, one cover at a time.

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Claire Kelly: Is there a particular challenge in designing a cover for a short story collection instead of a novel or nonfiction book?

Kate Hargreaves: I find that designing for short fiction collections is more similar to designing for poetry than for novels or non-fiction works; you tend to have a more varied project to represent, so it presents its own challenges. Short fiction even within the same collection can have different themes, content, tone, etc., so it is sometimes harder to settle on the overall mood or feeling for the cover, or to pick representative imagery. I try not to get too hung up on making a cover directly related to any one story or element from a collection, and instead pull thematically and tonally from the whole thing, but if a certain image from one story jumps out at me, I will sometimes go down that route and see if it can be applicable to the whole book.

 

Hand-drawn details

CK: How did this design become the chosen one?

KH: I was playing with some other ideas before I got to the missing animal poster concept. I liked the idea of doing something hand-lettered, and was working with the idea of something quite lo-fi, almost as if a child had drawn it, because the role of children in the stories really stood out for me. In conversation with the publisher, the idea of a missing animal poster came up, and it seemed perfect so I ran with that concept.

 

CK: Once you got the idea of Missing Animal Poster, how did you choose certain design elements, such as the colour, the hand-drawn lettering, the pictures of your cat, the pushpin sectional breaks?

KH: I wanted the cover to really emulate a hand-drawn lost animal poster, and have childlike elements about it. Through various photo edits, I turned photos of my cat Winn into fake photocopier images, and collaged them together digitally to appear to have been taped onto a poster and then photocopied together. I needed multiple photos of an animal to use on the poster, and being a bit of an obsessed cat person, I had plenty of Winn, so it was an easy go-to (plus I think he is quite a striking-looking cat, but that might be cat mum bias). The text is hand-lettered (as is the publisher logo on the back cover, just for a bit of fun and to keep the lo-fi vibe going), and meant to look as if it were done in marker and photocopied, and I added faint streaks across the cover to mimic toner issues. The initial cover was going to be in black and white but when the publisher suggested trying it with some colour

Push pins

I thought that the idea of sort of putrid hi-lighter yellow/green would be fitting thematically as well as quite eye-catching. It also helped to literally highlight important elements such as blurbs and keep things visually interesting. The push-pins came into play because I needed a section divider and I wanted to stay consistent on the poster theme and to avoid using plain asterisks. 

 

CK: Has your cat become unbearable since becoming famous?

KH: He has always been a bit of a prince, but I think the fame may have gone to his head a little. He's currently grooming himself as I think he feels that another modelling gig is in his future. You never know, he may be right. I do have to decorate my new apartment, so I'm thinking maybe he'd appreciate a life-size portrait on a major wall to go along with his newfound book fame. Then again, maybe not.

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Thanks so much to Kate for sharing her process for  Lost Animal Club, and to Claire from NeWest Press for conducting this interview!


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