I find the design process really interesting, maybe more than the finished work.
Why? (just my point of view) Because during that collaborative process between designer & (ideally) author is where the visual personality of the book will be defined.

PART I: The Book Cover

We get the manuscript for the design of the book cover, layout & website for A Worthy Legacy by author Tomi Akinyanmi.

A Worthy Legacy is a story about life and the passing of wisdom from one generation to the next. The author combines the last wise words of her beloved grandfather together, along with a few of her own thoughts to create a compelling story about real life.

Read the manuscript

From just a glance, the overall feel of the book should come out.

Then look for the voice: my starting point for every book is the belief that authors write books because they have something to say. By reading a manuscript, I need to find what it is that they had to say, who says it, how it is said, & from which point of view.

Sooner or later (usually very soon) some details are revealed, and often I find in those little details the key to the cover.

Reading A Worthy Legacy I learned that the author, originally from Nigeria now living in the U.S., tells many insights about the Yoruba Tribe, which totally fascinated me… & gave the book the ‘unique’ factor.
So from the reading I jump to images: search for the graphic elements – images, textures, color palette, etc – that relate to the book:

From there I get the first round of covers to send to the author, and since the first cover was my favorite, I’ve done also an option in a lighter color. Maybe I was trying to persuade? 🙂

Part II: The author’s feedback & second round of covers.

*The miscellanea on the side of this post is from the font Wingdings2 designed in 1992 by Bigelow & Holmes for Microsoft.

By |September 10th, 2008|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , , , |4 Comments


The layout of a book determines how information will be received and perceived by the readers and how user-friendly it is. In some cases it is necessary to interpret the information from the manuscript, and translate it into a graphic language so that the reader will get the message the way that the author intends to present it.
I always thought that this is a very interesting process so I put together an example of a book that we’ve worked on earlier this year.

STAGE 1 | identifying what needs graphic translation

Working on the book design of Stand Taller Live Longer by Dr. Steven Weiniger, we found that at the end of each chapter he had a little section with his 7 week Exercise Program and the idea was that the readers will start doing the exercises and progress along with the reading. The program was presented as lines of text, telling the reader which exercises to do, which order to follow and how many of them. The problem was that it didn’t look different than any other part of the text, so the reader wouldn’t realize that they were in front of The Excercise Program, and just read it as another line of text. It needed something to invite the reader to move out of the chair and get onto the exercise ball.

STAGE 2 | understanding the meaning

After talking with Dr.Steven, he came with this idea of a full page at the end of each chapter: Balance, Alignment & Motion with images of the exercises and page reference, and pyramids.

STAGE 3 | The BAM pages

We went from there and came up with the BAM pages that could be pulled out from the book and had a progressive set of exercises using the pyramid as a metaphor for building a Strong Base = a Strong Posture.

Each week would incorporate new exercises, which would be highlighted; while the repetitions from the week before would get a 50% transparency, serving as a remainder.

*The beautiful ornament bird on the side of this post is from the free font Medieval Dingbats by Lord Kyl

By |September 2nd, 2008|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , , |3 Comments

FRIDAY TEACHING | Class 2: Reviewing Mock-ups

Briefly Class 1: Each student’s assignment was to make a monogram for an Argentine comedian.

This will be a typical review class: As soon as the students get to the classroom, each one with a few home-printed mock-ups of the monograms, they go to a corner of the room and tape all the works to the wall. They also bring their chairs and notebooks and we all sit in a semi-circle in front of the works.

Someone choses a work (usually its me because nobody wants to be first) and critique it: we see what works and what doesn’t. The designer of the work tells why she chose that font, what changes she did to the font, what concept supports her design, and what problems she encountered.

The idea is to guide her so that she herself finds the best way to improve her work. After we are done with one work, we take it from the wall and then that student picks someone else’s work and says why she chose it and it goes on and on until the wall is empty.

In the process all the students can participate, and the idea is that they can take advantage of everybody’s work and answer the questions that are common to many. Sometimes we get into very interesting discussions that make this the best part of the class.

Apart from the resources that the students want to look for, we provide them with apuntes or notes: a few pages with material indirectly related to the topic. In the case of this assignment, they received three. Here a bit of the notes:

Apunte 1: Parts of the letter

Apunte 2: Raices Typographic

Apunte 3: Typographic variables

By |April 30th, 2008|Categories: teaching, typography|Tags: , , |Comments Off on FRIDAY TEACHING | Class 2: Reviewing Mock-ups


As a book designer I rarely get to do CD covers but last week I got to do one: Temple Bahan Band.

For me the process was almost the same as for books, just with some different details: I decided to play the CD’s music while working. I have to say that it was different, while listening to the music I tried to think of images and finally more than just images, what I found through the music were layers: different layers with the various voices & instruments that I translated into colors, images, swirls, shapes, and different levels of transparency & this is how I came to design the first mock-ups.

my first approach

The publisher’s feedback was that they wanted to add some city/party/celebration/ritual themes to the images so from that I worked on it graphically: the old wall texture in the background, the Hindu god, the crowd, some flowers related to Hindu rituals…and here’s the new covers, that yes, the publisher liked.

new covers

By |July 5th, 2007|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , , |3 Comments


¶ What is a book cover? what is its function? many times when I’m in front of a manuscript that is going to evolve into a book, I ask myself those questions and try to answer it by grabbing the feeling of that writing, to translate it into a graphic work. What is a cover if not that thing which is going to “cover” the writing awaiting to be read, a veil that protects the content from being read until it’s time. But, at the same time is the anticipation of what is going to be found on the inside, a little of the flavor, the taste that the book will remain with the readers.

By |November 7th, 2006|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , |Comments Off on EVERY BOOK (COVER) tells A STORY

THE FEAR of the WHITE PAGE (Whitespaces part I)

Okay, some time ago Jeff came with the idea that I should start a book design blog, since then it’s been on my mind, and since about a week ago I’m wandering around with a list of topics, titles, links, etc. but couldn’t sit down and write the first post. A couple days ago I became conscious about it and tried to “capitalize it” (lateral thinking, whatever!!), and thought about it in terms of design, because we designers, deal with white space all the time, and white space need to be designed and “capitalized” depending on each situation, for example in a novel the most important thing is to be the best quality reading possible, for which I would decide to use the white space for a good bottom margin, which holds the block of text, and then giving a good leading to make the reading smooth and pleasant.

…first post done.

By |October 20th, 2006|Categories: Book Design|Tags: |Comments Off on THE FEAR of the WHITE PAGE (Whitespaces part I)