I love working for university presses. Great people, always challenging titles, and most importantly, limited revisions. In all my years working with these presses I think I've maybe had a job killed once or twice. Here is one of them...
I worked with Charles Hames at NYU Press on this title. Charles always gives me interesting covers to work on and I usually get comps that I'm very pleased with during the process. This title, Keywords for American Cultural Studies, came to me with the usual tip sheet and a couple photos of keys for direction. I liked the idea of using a key, but wanted to make it iconic and bolder so I used silhouettes. A literal take on the title for sure, but with a long list of words to include, the silhouette added a graphic element that created more visual interest. Comps didn't necessarily have to use all the key terms.
A darker variation:
NYU provided this photo and asked me to work with it. The photo quality is low res, but it's of key hooks underneath of which I added the words:
In the end, which came quickly, they went in an entirely different direction (on Amazon).