We all know not to judge a book by a cover… but in publishing we also know that’s exactly what you’re going to do, so it’s our job to get it exactly right.
Luckily for publishers like us, there are creatives out there as passionate about literature as they are about a colour wheel and some photoshop magic.
This week, we decided to grill one of our trusty designers, Liana Moisescu, whose Agora designs include The Ghost It Was, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot, A Different Kind of Love, among others about her design process and why she loves creating book covers.
How did you get into designing book covers?
I have always had a knack for both science and art which made it difficult for me to ‘pick a side’. Although focusing on science and studying Biotechnology, my path led me to work for a fashion store while in college. I was creating their ads online and that’s how it all started, that was my first interaction with Photoshop and graphic design.
After years of learning, countless tutorials, courses, and very hard work I perfected my skills and I’m happy to say I love doing what I do. And as for book covers, it’s easy ― reading is a passion so picking this niche was a given.
What draws you to designing for books, specifically?
Creating a book cover can mean creating any type of artwork. The vast number of genres and styles that apply to designing covers leaves room for so much creativity and imagination! To me book covers are the perfect blank slate for design work, I can create anything from non-fiction minimalism to complex fantasy worlds.
How do you approach your projects? What’s your process?
Design is a collaborative effort that requires both the client and designer to work together, exchange ideas and visions. I’m in my element collaborating with people and creating something that is both mine and theirs equally. I love reading an extensive brief for my projects that has as much information as possible. After reading the brief and talking to my client, ideas just start flowing ― the tricky part is picking the one that best resonates with my client as well. However, after years of doing this you catch on quick! The creative process is a stress reliever, I enter a flow state that lets me work for hours and not understand how quickly time went by. Being a perfectionist is the downside to this but I strive to be better at that.
How do you use a story to inspire your designs?
A story will always have some key elements, some images that create an impact in your mind. You read the story and start visualizing what images can tell just enough to get the reader hooked. It can be a single object placed in a specific perspective or a more complex scene. It’s a challenge and a fascinating process finding the balance and creating those elements in an aesthetically pleasing and eye-catching manner.
What’s your favourite cover you’ve ever worked on?
There have been so many covers I just loved working on and picking a single one is such a struggle. More recently the one cover that comes to mind is The Bannister Girls by Jean Saunders. I used an actually vintage image circa 1940 in black and white and working on it, colorizing, editing, playing with the contrast between black and white and colors was so much fun and I fell in love with the end result!
I love doing vintage covers and another that sticks out to me (had to include a bonus one) is After Mars by Shannon Case. I’m attracted to bold, vibrant colors, surrealistic style, add space to all that, it’s just the perfect mix.
What’s one cover you wish you had designed?
Palm Beach Poison by Tom Turner. It looks so simple, doesn’t it? Just an image of a house and pool. Nonetheless, it’s such a complex design, using a lot of layered images. The light, shadow, intrigue that the designer created is brilliant!
What advice would you give to aspiring book cover designers?
The first thing I’d say is pursue it if it’s a passion! Second, be prepared to work hard. Even if it is a passion, it doesn’t mean things come easily. You have to grind, go through struggles, have ups and downs, but at the end of the day it’s totally worth it! Do as many styles as you can, experiment, don’t get stuck on a genre, build as many connections as you can and have fun doing it. I know it sounds a bit cliché, but it’s so true ― you won’t have to work a day in your life if you love what you do.
Liana is a 27 year old graphic designer with a passion for art and everything beautiful. Having studied Biotechnology in Bucharest, life led her towards graphic design and creating book covers. Not coincidentally, she loves reading, drinking and collecting delicious teas, drawing, and photography.
As always, thank you for reading, and be sure to tweet us @AgoraBooksLDN with some of your favourite book cover designs!