“When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story’s voice makes everything its own.”
– John Berger
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Books make our lives so much richer. They provide us with everything from vital information, to wonderful stories for brief, glorious moments of escapism, and everything in between.
They have been around pretty much since the invention of writing, but its current “paper sandwich” form pretty much dates back to just before the Middle Ages. The change from scroll to codex came about between the 2nd and 4th centuries, and is still the standard even today, more than 1500 years later.
Being potent symbols of status and cultural authority, books had to be protected, and it is this purpose that covers served. Before the early 19th century, books were hand-bound, and some even benefited from the use of silver, gold and jewels, as an enforcement of their role as a status symbol.
However, during the 1820’s mechanical book-binding techniques were gradually introduced, and cloth and paper began to be the staple materials used to make covers. With the introduction of the steam powered printing press, books became so cheap that using silver, gold, or jewels for the covers became unprofitable.
These new types of cover were cheap and printable, a fact which lead to the use of lithography and half-tone illustrations to embellish them. Over the years, poster-design techniques and graphic design began to influence book cover design more and more. The results are the covers you see now on shelves everywhere, which serve as protection for the books, but are also an intricate part of the art of the book, and a way of advertising it.
It is not the first time Pixel77 has taken an interest in book covers, and it should be fairly obvious why for any graphic designer or enthusiast. Book covers just are tremendously cool, and are, pretty much, a branch of graphic design all of itself.
One company that specializes in book covers (the only one I know of) is DOT.
“DOT is a graphic design studio based in Milan specialized in editorial and book design, illustration, typography and text editing.
Established by Francesca Leoneschi and Iacopo Bruno (remember that name), the studio is made up of Andrea Cavallini, Laura Dal Maso, Giovanna Ferraris, Mauro De Toffol, Paola Berardelli graphic designers whom experience includes typographic design, packaging, photographic retouch and compositing, 3D modeling and illustration. Web, multimedia and interactive projects are developed by Luigi Altomare and Emilio Ignozza. Elisa Sabatinelli manages the editorial part of the studio.”
One of the company’s founders, Iacopo Bruno, is the focus of today’s article. He is an absolutely amazing illustrator, being able to tackle several styles just as well.
You are probably pretty curious to see some of the artist’s works. Well, we would not dream of disappointing you, so here are a few of our favourites:
As you can see, Iacopo is a really versatile artist, and he is so very right about the importance of book covers. I do not think there is even one book up there on that list that I would not want to read.
The first cover brings Tim Burton aesthetics to mind, with characters managing to be colorful, even if they are drawn in ordinary grey graphite. But right after that you have two crisp, colored covers; one in warm earthly colors, and the other with darker, colder ones.
He effortlessly changes from “messy” styles to clean ones from cover to cover. The cover for School for Good & Evil even has a bit of anime, in my opinion, and the covers for the Sherlock, Lupin & Me series brilliantly capture the feel of a late 19th and early 20th century newspaper.
With the cover for Unnatural Creatures he also proves that he can do characterless covers, using a plain black background and intricate designs to create a really gorgeous cover.
My favorite of my favourites, so to speak, has to be The Ghost in the Glass House cover. The perspective is weird, the colors are amazing, and I could just as well have that cover framed and hanged on my wall, as have the book in my library.
That just about wraps up this week’s Artist of the Week. If you want to see more awesome artist, be sure to check out our dedicated section here. And, if you want to see more of Iacopo’s works, check out his websites here and here, or DOT’s website by clicking on the link I provided earlier.
Also, I love getting feedback, so be sure to scroll down to the comment section and drop me a line.