Above, a "moodboard" used by designer Jennifer Heuer during her process for the book-cover design for "Down & Delirious." The image appears in a fascinating interview Heuer did with Faceout Books about how she approached creating the book's central selling-pitch, its cover.
I loved reading this, as I've never met Heuer and had no idea what Scribner would offer as potential covers, or from whom, until I saw the designer's options. Here's what Jennifer had to say about the process (love that she started doing research at the New York Public Library):
What is Down and Delirious in Mexico City about?
The author is a journalist living in Mexico City taking a look at the new urban youth cultures and the people who love them or sometimes violently hate them. This was directed at a young fresh audience interested in how certain, and sometimes similar subcultures can form and clash in different areas. The author introduces us to the new hyper-emo crowd, a fashion-forward crew, artists and musicians. It's in no way a tour book for the city, so the general direction was to aim in a fresh, modern and somewhat fashion-minded direction. Mexico City is set in a volcanic bowl which means the city can't physically grow outside it's borders. So the density within the city is intense, hot, polluted, and grounds for subcultural strife ready to boil over.
Were there any steps taken before starting, and was there a clear working process that led to the final? Any known influences?
I began by heading to the library (NYPL has a wonderful picture library and I'm lucky enough to have the Pratt library at my fingertips). I researched mainly Aztec art, Latin American Catholic art, Day of the Dead ephemera and so on. I also began setting up an online moodboard through Imgspark.com!
I tend to spend at least half of my time writing and sketching. I start by listing out categories within the book, then lists within those categories and see if there's anything interesting that pops out or crosses over (I find this works for fiction and nonfiction alike). It's also just good to get bad ideas and buzz words flushed out of the system so I can ignore their nagging.
For this cover, the final piece uses a cutout Aztec-inspired pattern and beneath is an image of a volcano erupting.
Super interesting, and also intrigued by Image Spark. In Heuer's moodboard above, I see the sun stone, pyschedelic pyramid forms, the skull-influenced cover of "El Monstruo" by the late John Ross, feathered serpents, Aztec glyphs, and a thrilling find because I've considered these a personal visual influence since I first saw them: old Slash magazine covers.
I love that the eventual design is a mix of stylish and superflat, pre-Hispanic symmetry and volcanic tension, almost radioactive. It's interesting that Heuer describes listing and cross-referencing categories, which is a method I used in writing and visually mapping the book's themes and eventual chapters. See this image and post.
She adds: "I basically learned what I always knew; which is to get away from my desk, go to the library, museums, read through fashion magazines and the newspaper, listen to the radio, watch documentaries and observe closely."
Friends and readers consistently tell me that the cover for "Down & Delirious in Mexico City" is eyecatching and inviting, so this discovery is a real treat. Congratulations, Jennifer! Hope to one day meet and shake your hand with gratitude.