There are a million sides to the book industry. Literally. a. million different components that all work together in bringing that complete pretty little package into your hands. All the work that goes into a book is redonk. And the million little tasks involved are actually done by real living humans with names and faces and lives and extremely varied talents, go figure. I decided to get to know a few of them in the form of a little Q&A series called 10+2 Qs: where I ask someone in the book industry ten + two questions about themselves + their work and we all get to know a little bit more about how the world of books comes to be!
And it all starts NOW with the founder/principal of Salamander Hill Designs: David Drummond, hailing from Elgin, Quebec (and creator of some of the most striking book designs I’ve ever seen – like The Golden Book Of Bovinities pictured above!)
Now, without further blahblahs from me…
AF: Who is David Drummond in a nutshell?
DD: Father of two lovely daughters, husband to a truly amazing woman and a graphic designer who lives on a farm in rural Quebec. I don’t get off the farm too often these days but that is how I like it. I probably work too much but I really love the work that I do.
AF: How did you come into the world of book cover design?
DD: Back in 1995 my sister was having a scholarly book published by McGill-Queen’s University Press. She recommended me for the cover. I will always remember the call I got from them. I was on my way into a presentation with a big grocery store chain in Quebec – I was designing their private label packaging. My career kind of took a left turn at Albuquerque after that.
AF: What (in your opinion) is your X factor as a book cover designer?
DD: It’s all about the concept period. “Create a smile in the mind” to quote from a well known graphic design book.
AF: What I like about your designs is how clean and precise they are, often relying on a specific single image or text. Where did you come to develop that style? Has it always been that way?
DD: I have always worked that way. I come up with a direction and then find the simplest expression for it. It is a fine line though. You can strip away too much and then it just becomes banal.
AF: Describe your creative process.
DD: I keep hacking away at the design until I arrive at something that pleases me and gets my pulse going. Sometimes I throw an idea out and start again. Sometimes I come back to it early in the morning. I get up super early – farmers hours – and I try and leave my creative work to that time of day. If I know the idea is good but the execution just isn’t working, I keep at it until it hits the bar so to speak.
I have said this before but it really is how I approach all the design work that I do – I see the project as solving a visual problem. Often you find yourself in well-mined territory – visually speaking – and the trick to find a new way of expressing the idea.
AF: How does the book influence the cover?
DD: Totally. You have to go back to the source to find the visual hook.
AF: How (in your opinion) can the cover influence the book?
DD: As a reader I’m sure you would agree. You have an ongoing dialogue with the cover as you read the book. It might sound a little ridiculous but the cover has to be “smart”.
AF: Tell me your philosophy on fonts.
DD: I really only use a limited number of fonts on my covers. That in no way diminishes the importance of type design in my work. It is a crucial part of the design and I spend hours playing with type to find the right balance. I love doing type only solutions. Here is a recent cover for a journal I did [called Signs and Society]:
AF: Besides your own, what style of book cover do you love/appreciate most?
DD: Ones where the idea grabs hold of you.
AF: What do you like to read?
DD: Pretty much everything to be honest.
Big thanks to David for being a great sport and giving us a little glimpse inside the life of a book cover designer! I HIGHLY suggest you check out his designs. You WILL WANT every book pictured on his blog solely based on their fascinating covers. And next time you happen pick up a book because it just looks so gosh darn interesting! take a peek inside the jacket for the cover cred! It just might be David D.