From Concept to Creation: Donal agus Jimmy

Awhile back, the wonderful PD Singer came to me with the news that she had recently gotten back the rights to her story Donal agus Jimmy and that the she was going to rerelease it with a new cover by yours truly. Now, anytime an author comes to me for a design, I’m over the moon. That they would choose me over the myriad of other designers out there is a tremendous compliment to my skill and my talent. She quickly gave me the breakdown of what she wanted. This is one thing I’ve come to understand about Pam over the time I’ve known her. She knows her mind and isn’t afraid to tell you exactly what she wants. She even had her own image of the RMS Titanic that she wanted incorporated into the design.

When a client brings their own photos with them, I know then and there this is not going to be a breezy project. It’s very helpful that they have a clear picture in their minds of what they want, but the image that have chosen isn’t always the most conducive to the type of design they want.  Pam came to me with an amazing vintage photo of the Titanic when it still dry docked in the shipyards in Belfast, Ireland with the thousands of dock workers milling about around it, going about their various concerns. It is a wonderful photo, but the Titanic a miniscule feature in the background while the sea of men made of the majority of the image. The client was insistent that it should be made as visible as possible.  That is a relatively easy request and I zoomed in on the Titanic, making it more focal but in doing so we lost the majority of the faces and certainly the variation in color. The new bottom of the image became a solid black blob with a pale face here and there.

We tried several variations of that, some using the image as it originally was and others zoomed in. My original design featured only text over a background image on the cover as you see with authors like Nora Roberts and Linda Howard. Pam worried that the cover didn’t read “romance” enough and I could see her point so, I inserted a medallion image two young men from that time period to the center of the cover, moving the title higher to accommodate the new element. She then felt the medallion was too overpowering to the rest of the image and you lost the Titanic in the background, so I shrunk the size of the medallion to expose more of the background image.

We went back and forth over this design several times. A little bigger. A little smaller. Move it here. Move it there until I threw up my hands and did what every designer should do in the first place. I made the requested changes to the image but before I sent it back for Pam’s consideration, I pulled together some elements that I liked and created the cover that I wanted to create, that had been in my head since the first email. I then sent back the old image and the new to the client.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When you’re suggesting a different direction to any client, you must make it clear that you respect them, their work and their opinion. What you’re presenting to them now is simply another option, one that you think works better visually than the design or designs you’ve come up with before. Talk up the new design and point what specifically you like about it and what makes it work better than the others.

Pam flipped over the new design. It had everything she wanted. I had the RMS Titanic, a romance-y vibe with the sultry male in the ship’s rigging and an antique overall look.

The last to be decided was the text coloring. I did several versions of gold, white, grey and even black before she settled on the dark brown. My personal choice was the bronze but the client felt it blended into the background color and became lost and I agreed. Though I still vote for the bronze.

In the end, you have to give the client what they want but you have to remember that you are the designer. You’re the one with the knowledge and the experience. You have to be willing to teach them and push in what you know to be the right direction but you also have to be willing to concede the point and accept that some people are not open to suggestion. Luckily for me, PD Singer is a woman open to suggestion and what we produced is one snazzy cover!

You can buy Donal augs Jimmy here!

Until Next Time,

Your Artist


One thought on “From Concept to Creation: Donal agus Jimmy

  1. The client learned something valuable too. State the elements you want and then get out of the designer’s way. I should have said men, ship, and have fun. It would have saved us all some time. And I LOVE the cover Jared did once I quit trying to do his job.

    (I liked the bronze lettering too, but it disappeared at thumbnail.)

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