Creativity when it comes to book cover design (like the art of actually writing a book) comes from focus and of course inspiration regarding the subject itself, now this inspiration will come from reading sections of the book (as not many authors and publishers have the time for you to actually read the entire manuscript) and in-depth discussions with the author. This is where gaining as much information about the author’s book is paramount to the success of the project.
So prior to any book cover design it’s important to get to grips with the concept of the book, this can be easier to achieve than you may think, but only if you ask the right questions of the author. One of the best questions that we’ve found is to ask the author to sell the book to us but in only 30 seconds, given such a window the author normally hones in on the most important elements within the book itself.
From here you have a good idea as to what the most important elements within the book cover design should be, but you still need to develop those ideas. With brainstorming and research you should be able to design several rough drafts which can be worked upon prior to delivery to the client, these can be as pencil sketches upon paper or digitally in Photoshop (at this point it doesn’t matter too much).
But getting back to the original point, creativity comes from inspiration as well as focus upon the subject, so what does that mean when it comes to book cover design? For a start, the brainstorming sessions that will form an integral part of the design will help but you still need to do more with your creativity, but like any form of art, creativity is found all around you, in essence it means keeping your eyes, ears and mind open.
For me personally, one of the most inspiring processes is to simply take a walk, getting out into the sunshine and fresh air does wonders for your thought process, it also exposes you to elements which can lead to ideas within the design you may be working upon. This can be in the form of people you see, situations taking place in front of you or simply the nature (or city) around you.
To give an example of how ideas can come from unexpected places, there was a designer working on one of the Star Wars movies, he had to come up with a design for one of the villains in the third of the prequels, now he had been back and forth with drafts and nothing was gelling, so whilst sat upon the toilet ‘pondering’ his dilemma he looked over to a shelf to see a spray bottle which was facing him. It was this spray bottle top which became the basis for his character and made it in to the movie, the moral of this story….keep your eyes open!
Ideas and creativity can (and will) come from everywhere, this is why it’s important to be open-minded enough to see the inspiration when it’s right in front of you, but also being prepared to capture it once you see it. But this can be easy to do, as most of us will always have a cell phone upon our person, it can be straight forward to capture that idea and element of inspiration (either as a note or an image upon your camera). Again, inspiration is everywhere as long as you keep both your mind and eyes open to it.