I’ve read and watched many interviews with respected art directors and cover designers. If we’re lucky, they spend a little time talking about their process. This is the best. Like seeing into how their brains works. It’s fun and impressive stuff.
I have a really hard time explaining my process. When asked, I usually just say I draw a lot and leave it at that. Maybe when I'm older I'll be better at explaining what I hope to achieve and how I approach new projects.
The truth is every project is different. Every project starts somewhere new and ends some other new place. But since this post is about quirk. I’m going to let you in on the one thing that’s the same every time I start to design anything. There is one common link every time I work. It’s the quirk. I’m looking for the quirk.
The quirk of the book, the quirk of the writing, the quirk of the plot, the quirk of the timing, the quirk in the world the book is about. Not every book is entirely quirky, but every book has one or two specific details that are not like any other book. If the book has no quirks, then I might be in trouble. But thankfully, it hasn’t happened yet.
Note, that I’m afraid writing this down may bring me a quirk-less book. Having made this statement may unleash the most humdrum plot, characters, and wording, and send them hurdling toward my in-box. So this is a risky post.
Some of my favorite covers are quirky. They are not always beautiful. They’re not always immediately understandable even. But they are unique and they are brave. They stand up in bookstores and online and say, “Hey, I’m a freak! Come read me!”
If these books were people, you might find them shockingly confident. Everyone has a friend like this. This friend may not the handsomest; or may not the slickest, but this friend knows him or herself really well, and behaves that way wherever they go.
Quirky covered books are like that. They know what they are, and confidently proclaim it everywhere they go. Here are a few of my favorites.