Gay Male Pornography

Christopher N. Kendall

I would put this cover into the "type only with a twist" category.

From the brief: "The mother, Isabel, pays the rent with an all-night job delivering newspapers out of her van. And the climactic section involves a kind of quest road trip in which Isabel, now 20, and her grandmother set out in a Volvo on a quest to find Isabel’s mother. Eventually they do find her and her van alongside a prairie road. She’s burning papers from her life alongside the road."

My first idea which really intrigued me was to use the open doors of the black van referred to in the novel as symbolic open arms. I spent a lot of time trying to find an image of a van shot from above with the doors open to no avail. I finally found a site that had diecast models of cars for sale with doors that opened and I ordered a Ford Econoline black van. I had to pick it up from my U.S. postal box and when declaring it on the way back over the border, I got involved in a conversation with the custom guy who was really into cars. For about 30 seconds there I actually felt like I was one of the guys, talking about cars. In the end he had a hard time understanding what the hell it was, that I was planning to do with it. I think he is still trying to figure it out.

The publisher in the end wanted this novel to tie into another novel by the same author that had just been shortlisted for a literary prize so we went in another direction, still using the van though. Prairie landscapes with blue skies always seem kind of corny to me. The final version has a blackened sky which works.

Final cover

This catalogue cover concept owes a debt to Woody Pirtle's great 1989 poster for the UCLA summer studies program. He crafted a palm tree out of an open book. This is book as flower for MQUP's spring 2009 catalogue. The photographs of Cara Barer also served as inspiration for this cover as well.

This is one of my recent covers. It gets my vote for the best subtitle of all time.

Suburban Legends

Joan Crate

From the brief: "the book makes an analogy between a suburban wife who is dealing with loneliness, divorce, aging, and copious amounts of winter (tons of winter imagery in this book, which I'd love for the cover to pick up on), and the character of Snow White, who sacrificed everything for the dwarves and was replaced by newer, flashier, fantasy figures.

This is the first sketch I presented.

In the end we opted for a more simplified approach with a more modern feel.

An Irish History of Civilization

Don Akenson

This is a two volume series. There is nothing that original about having an image go over two covers in a series but in this case it seemed a nice way of using the image of the man in a boat on an Irish river. The boat in this case is called a 'coracle' and is specific to Ireland and Wales.

I had sort of given up on using references to constructivism on a book cover design mainly because it has been done so many times. However in this case the authors asked for a Canadiana version of Soviet constructivist graphics so I went for it.

I just got asked to submit cover designs to a design competition where the entries only use classic fonts and I was reminded of this quote by Vignelli. I only use about 4 or 5 different fonts on most of my cover designs. They are, in no particular order:

New Baskerville (will go with me to the grave)
Trade Gothic
New Century School Book


Christopher Willard

From the brief:
Sundre is a town in Alberta. The cover for this novel is challenging because we don’t want Prairies and grain elevators, the big sky, etc, even though they figure in the story, because the book is really about a husband and wife talking about the past—but they are both dead.

In a nutshell the concept is headboard as tombstone.

Hugh MacLennan Series

Here are the final two in this series. Each Man's Son is a novel set in Cape Breton in a coal mining community. It features a violent death near the end of the novel. The son's father, a failed boxer, kills his mother. The image of the coal cart underground evokes a coffin

The Return of Sphinx is a novel about a prominent Canadian politician whose career is destroyed when his son gets involved in the separatist movement in Quebec and is arrested for making a bomb. The revolt of youth against parental authority. The crushed smoking pipe seems like the right image to suggest this.

I couldn't put my finger on why the image of the canoe viewed from above on the cover of The Watch That End's the Night resonated so strongly for me. Then I realized that it reminded me of what was probably the seminal book of my childhood, Paddle to the Sea. An indian boy carves a wooden canoe and leaves in on a mountain top in the spring. The book follows its journey to the sea.

Pedaling Revolution

Jeff Mapes

A straight up solution for this cover seemed to be what was called for. The tricky part was finding the right cyclist. I must have gone through about 800 Royalty Free stock images to find a cyclist that didn't look like a Tour de France wannabe.

I think this approach is interesting because the two pairings are not how they originally seem to appear.