Series Design Presents Unique Book Design Challenges

by | Sep 3, 2009

Some years ago I was asked to redesign the journal of the Swedenborg Foundation, Chrysalis. This journal presents essays, art, and spiritually-oriented material for their worldwide membership.

The new design was clean and organized, and in the process I began a series of cover designs that went on for numerous issues. We needed to create a vehicle that could transition from one issue to another and adapt to all of them while maintaining the identity of the journal.

Since a good deal of the content revolved around art, the editors loved to use art—big, bold art—on the covers. This made my job both challenging and fun.

The solution was the title box you see on the covers here. In the first instance, Going For It! the box floats over the artwork and is pared down to essentials. The only other mark is the “flag” at the bottom with the Chrysalis logo–a beautiful butterfly, representing transformation–which appears on each cover.

chrysalis1

The second cover shows just how far this basic concept could be stretchd and still remain true to the original design. The editors at Chrysalsi delighted in finding off-beat illustrations and materials and this artwork came to me painted on seveal pieces of very delicate, almost translucent rice paper. After scanning and assembling the art, we really got playful with the title box and I added a typographic border to contain the art and “even up” the hand-drawn border. The logo flag is still at the bottom but has moved in to accommodate the border, and it’s turned translucent. Here’s what it looks like:

chrysalis2

One of the great things about being in the publishing business is the variety of projects you get to work on, and the unique challenge each book presents to the book designer in terms of helping the publisher and the author achieve their goals for the book, while solving real design challenges within the parameters of the project.

In the case of series design, consistent formatting has to be balanced by enough flexibility and creativity that the series remains visually interesting and relevant while maintaining the brand the publisher has worked hard to establish.

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