Happy Friday, Tomb Keepers!
Now, I've seen the comments in the cover reveal threads - "this cover is amazing!" and "look at that gorgeous-ness!" and "this is a masterpiece!" I have the very same thoughts every time I see a TombQuest or Spirit Animals cover, but I'm lucky in that I get to vocalize these thoughts to the designer herself. And today, Tomb Keepers, you all get to meet the genius behind the creations!
Meet Keirsten G., our TombQuest/Spirit Animals/39 Clues cover designer! Start reading the exclusive Q&A below to learn more about how Keirsten got into design, her favorite book covers, and more!
Q: What inspired you to want to work in art and design?
A: I was the child whose food on her dinner plate couldn’t touch or I wouldn't eat a thing. I was very picky about just almost everything – but most importantly about the way things looked. A job in art and design fits my personality.
Q: On average, how many books do you work on each season?
A: Only about two books per season (each season is 4 months), but somehow, my due dates always align, so they are both due out to press in the same week.
Q: What steps do you need to take before starting work on a cover?
A: I start the design process well before the first draft of the book is in. I work off the general theme, then research books in the same genre to create a mood board. A mood board is a bunch of pictures of collected book covers and cool design elements and anything else that inspires me that I share with my editorial and marketing teams. Then we see what elements people like before we start brainstorming the overall cover look and feel.
Q: How closely do you work with the editor and author on the cover design?
A: I work very closely with my editorial team, illustrators, and other designers, but not very much with the authors.
Q: What other elements throughout the book do you design?
A: Book design includes the entire book, inside and out. I choose special effects for the cover (foil or embossing or something else fun!); the paper to use for the interior pages (plus all the stuff that goes on it); logo; fonts; colors; time break elements; chapter heads; title page; "About the Author" page; interior illustrations (if needed); and sometimes codes (like in The 39 Clues).
Q: For books in a series, there needs to be a consistent look and feel to the covers. What inspired you for the book design of series like Spirit Animals, TombQuest, and the 39 Clues?
A: Spirit Animals and TombQuest were easy to sustain a line look because we used the same illustrator for each book, so it was only a matter of figuring out which characters go on the cover and what action poses they’re doing. 39 Clues is the harder cover to concept and unify under a series look: illustrations come from all different sources. It usually takes a whole lot of ideas before we come up with something that makes sense and works on the cover. Each series is so different, so we have to rely on color, feel, and other design elements (like background textures, for example) to unify the books.
Q: What was your favorite book to work on?
A: I really enjoyed working on the paperback versions of Infinity Ring. They were so fun and colorful!
Q: Any advice to aspiring designers here on the message boards?
A: Be aware of the world around you. Notice how things look – good and bad - then try to figure out why. There are so many interesting things happening in the world. Be sure you don't miss them!
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