Cover Design Q&A: Advent

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17 Dec 2021 |

Welcome to our final Cover Design Q&A of the year! For December, we of course had to feature the wonderfully festive Advent. Read on to discover how Emily Lapworth, senior designer at Quadrille, created this beautiful, gold adorned cover. You can find Emily on Instagram and Twitter, or see more of her work on her website.

Tell us about yourself.
Hi I’m Emily! I’m a Senior Designer at Quadrille. I studied Graphic Design and Typography at the University of Reading and have been at Quadrille since I graduated in 2013. Books have always been a big part of my life, and although I really didn’t know what I wanted to do at school, a love of art and English led me to graphic design and then into publishing. I love how each book brings a different brief, which enables us to be (mostly!) creative every day.

What was the brief?

It is always great to work with someone with a clear vision. This was the case with Anja, author of Advent.

Most importantly Anja wanted the book to feel timeless; something you would get off your shelf every year, and that your family would bake from year after year. It had to feel special. And, of course, festive!

Anja referenced vintage German story books from her childhood frequently in our initial chats. This was the starting point for the interiors – we could have gone down the overly decorative route, but I was very conscious of letting Anja’s photography and artwork speak for itself. I used modern versions of classic German typography styles (blackletter and Bauhaus), combined with clean rules and decorative drop caps.

The fairytale element was at the forefront of our minds for the cover and overall package too. We discussed ribbons, foil and linen fabric, all reminiscent of classic story books.

Anja’s beautiful linocut designs are featured on the cover and throughout the book. How did the idea of using linocut come about? 

From the very beginning, Anja had wanted to create 24 linocuts – one for each chapter opener. As soon as Harry (the editor) and I saw the linocuts, we knew they were cover worthy. It was only ever going to be a linocut from that point on.

Whom did you have in mind as the consumer/audience? 

For me, I envisioned it in the sparkly, snowy windows of independent bookshops. With it being published in the build up to Christmas, it needed to stand out and create intrigue. The buyer needed to want it just by spotting it as they walked by.

Can you share with us the process of this project? What was the idea and inspiration for the cover design and layout?

I started mocking up ideas as soon as I had access to some of Anja’s artwork. It’s fair to say I was inspired from the off! She had collaborated with Jenny at Cut By Beam the previous Christmas, creating lasercut decorations. This included linocut fruits (oranges, pears, etc) as well as a larger wreath – my brain went *ding ding ding*…

Part of Anja’s brief also included the colours she had envisioned. These included Prussian blue, ochre, mustard yellows, along with the more festive-classic of forest green. This is where I started – wreaths in various shapes and colours:

Myself, Harry and Anja could see something in these and loved the wreath itself, but something wasn’t quite right (and annoyingly our sales teams agreed). Back to the drawing board. I dallied (very briefly) with some type-only options, and by this time I had some beautiful linocuts to try too. There is an option in here I still *love* (#coversthatneverwere). I also snuck some more wreath options into this presentation, I was so determined this could work:

With some more discussion, we agreed there was too much going on in these other options, and having the confidence to go for a simpler, more striking cover would be the better route. We came back full circle to the wreath. It just needed some tweaking. Our teams thought the leaves were too ‘spikey’ and wanted more variety in the decoration. Anja and I worked together creating a brand new wreath that ticked all our boxes – bigger leaves, berries, oranges, pears, hazelnuts and star anise. This was the loveliest part of the whole process; a cover created by working collaboratively with such a talented author, both trusting each other’s talents. It’s for this reason I think we have such a beautiful package.

A few more tweaks (and addition of foil) and we were there. Anja said it was like “opening up the book like a front door at Christmas”.
We went with a beautiful cloth for the cover – this included lots of back and forth with our production team (big thanks to Sabs!), getting the forest green *just* right. We used a matt gold foil (front and back!) and golden ribbon to complete the package.

As Harry perfectly said at the time – it just goes to show that sometimes the first idea is the best, but it takes exploring other directions to see this clearly!

Do you work on the design of a book as a whole before the cover, or does the cover design dictate the look and feel of the rest of the book?

This varies from book to book – sometimes I’m working on it as a whole, but often we need to come up with cover ideas for early sales deadlines (before any content even exists). So the cover leads the interiors. On Advent, I worked on the project as a whole – I worked up a direction (typography, colours, etc) that would work throughout together.

What does a typical working day for you look like?

With nearly two years WFH, my working day includes a lot less time on trains than it used to! I now end up using that extra time in the morning/evening to get some extra sleep or do a bit of crafting or things around the house. Once I’m at my desk, my day usually consists of: catching up on emails (more time doing this than I’d like!), checking colour proofs, coming up with ideas for new books (sometimes on paper, sometimes straight onto the computer), laying out current projects, organising photoshoots, briefing freelancers (photographers, illustrators, designers), and checking plotters (final pdfs from printers). It’s quite varied! And not as much actual ‘design’ day-to-day as you might think.

Do you have any Christmas traditions? What gets you in the Christmas spirit?

Putting the tree up generally puts me in the festive mood! These last two years I’ve been baking festive treats (thanks to Anja!), which I hope will become a new tradition.

How do you spend your time when you’re not working?

I took up sewing again over lockdown so that’s my main hobby/clothes source at the moment. I also like to screenprint after taking a great course at Print Club London a couple of years ago. At the moment I’m also making a few bits for my wedding next year (third times the charm!), so I end up crafting in most of my free time.

Quadrille publish plenty of lifestyle and craft titles, is there anything new you’re planning to try your hand at?

Well Love at First Stitch already taught me how to sew! But I’d love to have another bash at punch needling – I tried it last year and was so bad I gave up. But it always looks so beautiful so would like to have another go.

Advent by Anja Dunk is out now, available from local bookshops, Waterstones and Amazon.

Read our previous Cover Design Q&As! 

The Italian Deli with Katherine Keeble | Crave with Claire Rochford | Sea and Shore with Nikki Ellis | La Vita è Dolce with Susan Le | Bowls and Broths with Han Valentine | The Nordic Baker with Gemma Hayden