Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Nightingales of Troy

I give all the credit to my art director, Eleen Cheung at W.W. Norton for guiding this jacket along and getting it printed. Even at the end we were making adjustments and Eleen had an endless amount of patience with me and the author (and everyone else) to make this happen.

The book is comprised of ten linked short stories which track the lives of four generations of women from Troy, N.Y., "where love comes to die." The first story begins in 1908, and subsequent stories are spaced approximately a decade apart. Because there are so many stories it seemed important to NOT show everything and give more of a feel of the lush & complex stories.

There is quite a bit of rich detail in the writing to draw upon. For imagery, I chose to focus on women representing the 20s time period where the name of the novel is taken from the corresponding story. I hinted at some of these concepts in the early comps, such as the Madonna/saint since there are many spiritual overtones throughout.

A nun grows poppies (opium) in one story:

After this round, the author suggested she would like to see Troy featured. This photo (I thought) had a nice balance between mysterious & beautiful...

Then it was suggested to try synchronized swimmers since they appear in the book in one of the stories: I was skeptical...but I did like the symmetry of the photograph.

In one of the above rounds I sent this comp. It didn't go over at the time, but elements of the design appear in the final (modern-day Troy at the bottom):

This comp was submitted later in the process...

After this concept was chosen, I then took vintage images (or made images vintage looking) relating to the individual stories and made them into small icons. The only catch was that the author wanted icons for every story. Originally I was told to try and fit all the icons on the front cover, but after some discussion we were finally able to get some pushed to the back cover (7 on front, 3 on back). The final design:

The final jacket was a selection in the Philadelphia AIGA design awards this year (the PDAs).


Anne said...

Wow, what a process. Lovely designs and the final is so nice.

umlaut said...

Wow, I genuinely think they're all great. Have to say though, I think the first is my favourite - that image is really striking, but I especially love that font (great 'R' in Troy!).

Would it be rude to ask how long a process like this might take from start to finish?

And great blog by the way.

K. Glyder said...

I think it took several months of back & forth before we had a cover design in place. The final cover, with the small icons, took another month of so to finalize with the correct art...

umlaut said...

Thanks - that's incredible, but also not surprising. I'm sure you have some great stories to tell about the trials and tribulations of working with authors and publishers too, but very wise of you to be so diplomatic here!

I'll look forward to seeing more.

Anonymous said...

After all those iterations and permutations, I don't know how you found the spirit to keep trying so hard and doing fresh new ideas. At that point, I would have brought the author and editor over to my computer, sat them down, and said "Here's the computer, here's the software, go ahead and design it and I'll be back after a long, liquid lunch."

I'm so impressed with your patience and perseverance! That's why you're great, and I'm anonymous, I guess.