In book design it’s often best to keep authors a safe distance from the process. Publishers know this to be good practice. As do designers. And even the authors are usually on board. This being said there are of course always exceptions to the rule and occasionally a design author collaboration can have successful results. This I think is one of those exceptions.
When I was hired to come up with a cover for my pal Ken Babstock’s new (and stunning) collection of poetry I eagerly awaited Ken’s thoughts. Poetry, more than any other form of writing, is wide open to personal interpretation so I’m always keen to get the poet’s take.
Ken had come across an image he wanted me to take a look at. A piece by photographic artist Lisa Stinner-Kun. I saw it and I loved it. A line from the book’s catalogue copy reads “Marooned in the shiftless, unnamed space between a map of the world and a world of false maps, these poems cling to what’s necessary from each, yet attempt to sing their own bewilderment.” This sentiment seems to ring out in the image. I love the grid-based carpet that seems to go on forever whose lines emulate those on a globe or map. The evocative mess of ocean blue cable and the manufactured man-madeness and quietude of the photograph felt perfect. Ken also felt that a stacked type treatment for the title featuring odd word breaks was something he would like to see. I’m always game to try a treatment like this since almost every time I do it’s turned down. I experimented with a bunch of type treatments and we eventually settled on this one.
Thanks for the great input, Ken. Your cheque is in the mail.