Beautiful Books: One Good Thing

Since we first saw it, we’ve swooned over the psychedelic, poster- and Northwest Territories-inspired cover of Rebecca Hendry’s One Good Thing (Brindle & Glass). Lucky us – cover designer Tree Abraham indulged our design-nerd inclinations and answered our questions about this stunner.


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We sat down with Tree Abraham, designer of Rebecca Hendry’s One Good Thing (Brindle & Glass), to find out more about the inspirations behind the cover.
All Lit Up: Being a historical novel, did your approach for this One Good Thing differ from other books you’ve worked on?
Tree Abraham: Time period was a definite source of inspiration when designing the cover because 70s design was so distinctive and at the moment a lot of cover design is heralding back to retro typefaces and graphic shapes. However, it didn’t define the design process any differently from other covers I have done since it is always one of the initial elements to be mindful of when exploring design solutions — era, setting, genre — are necessary factors when representing the tone of the book. ALU: What elements struck you about the story? What did you end up incorporating into the design?TA: Aside from time period, the story is so unique in being set in the Northwest Territories that is was an element that I wanted to leverage if possible. I envisioned this design immediately when the cover was briefed and luckily the story ended up perfectly reflecting the imagery I had initially imagined (this never happens). The streaks of colour in the sky denote both the Northern Lights visible in Yellowknife as well as nodding to a place in the book aptly named Rainbow Valley. Additionally, some of the most beautiful passages in the book involve the main character’s observations of the night sky. How she feels in relation to the sky at various points in the book poetically reveal her personal growth and relationships to her mother and to her new sense of home. I wanted the cover to give the sense of mystery and grandeur that is felt when gazing at a dark starry sky. 
ALU: Did Rebecca [Hendry] or Brindle & Glass have any directions for the cover?
TA: The brief for this book was completely open. The publisher is fantastic about allowing me to interpret the text in the first round of designs and then, when needed, refining further based on the responses in-house and by the author. Their main requests were that it alluded to the Northern Canadian setting and appealed to both adults and teens as it is about a thirteen year-old girl coming-of-age. ALU: Were there any other contending cover ideas for this book? How did this design win out?TA: I think this design was everyone’s favourite from the beginning. A couple designs played with some other strong visuals from the book. The title is taken from a conversation about binary stars and their perceived co-dependency and how when one dies, it gives a burst of energy to the other and becomes its “one good thing”. Especially because of the mother-daughter relationship in the book, I liked this interplay of two stars. I combined this idea with the geometric star shapes seen in quilts as colourful, cozy quilts were mentioned in the book. I thought a quilt was very indicative of the time and also symbolized the interweaving of community and diversity of experiences of the protagonist.
Some alternative cover concepts for One Good Thing.ALU: Please tell us a little bit about your type choices for the cover.TA: I drew inspiration directly from the 60s and 70s. I loved how the psychedelic letterforms of music posters and illustration of artists like John Alcorn were so sculptural in how type and image swirled together and filled space. The title and author type were originally set in a font called “Soap” which feels a lot like “Cooper Black”, a typeface that exploded in variations during that time period. I used “Soap” as a base and hand-drew the title type with some swashes and fluidity so it felt more integrated and active.
John Alcorn posters.* * *Thanks so much to Tree for answering our pressing design questions, and to Tori at Brindle & Glass for connecting us! One Good Thing is available now.You can check out more Beautiful Books, here.