THE STORY OF THE COVER AND COVER ART FOR HAPPY LIFE

One of the great things about working with Copper Canyon Press is that they want the author involved in choosing cover art. They want the author to be happy with the cover. This is not always the case. I published two books, a long time ago, with a large New York house. The first one had drawings in it. I wrote to my editor and asked if I could see the drawings to confirm that they accurately portrayed what the stories in the book said. I was told that they would be happy for me to review the art, all I needed to do was come to New York—a seven hour drive—during the three days the art would be in the offices and I could have a look. This tough-guy attitude, I am happy to say, is not the way Copper Canyon Press does business.

 

While we were still going back and forth about what would be in the manuscript, my editor, Michael Wiegers, asked me to send in some ideas for cover art. Early in November 2010 I sent him 21 possibilities. They included numerous ancient Chinese landscape paintings; here are just two, the first by Hsia Kuei (c. 1190-1230), the second by Chang Feng (1645-1673).

I also sent numerous ensos painted by my wife, Lois Eby, one example of which is:

 

And I sent some of Lois’ more improvisatory paintings, such as

 

     

These paintings are 5 of the 21 I originally sent. Michael asked me to narrow it down to half a dozen, which I did, choosing only the ancient Chinese landscapes and a number of Lois’ ensos.

 

After a few weeks we got back 6 possible covers, all of them, much to our surprise, using Lois’ improvisatory paintings, the ones I’d eliminated in cutting down to 6.

 

On February 8th Copper Canyon Press sent 5 choices of designed covers combining art with text. Here are 2 of the 5.

                    

 

 

We went back and forth over the 5 choices, then settled on the one below. After we’d decided on a design there was still some adjustment to background color, type faces and font size for the type and then: done.

 

 

As soon as this was completed, the designer. Valerie Brewster (http://www.olympus.net/personal/brewster/scribe.html), set to designing the interior of the book.

 

More about that and what comes next, next time.

David Budbill

March 20, 2011