Full jacket. Click for larger size.
Parmigianino's Madonna with the Long Neck.
Author: Angus Trumble
Designer: Jennifer Carrow
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Typefaces: Bembo and Bickham Script, as well as hand traced versions.
Imagery: Detail from Parmigianino's Madonna with the Long Neck (1535-40)
Carrow recently updated her portfolio with a plethora of gems (yes, I know what a plethora means). Among her new work, this one in particular stood out to me. Thanks for a great contribution Jennifer!
How did you become a book cover designer?
A week before graduating from the Cooper Union, I brought my work to the Art Directors Club’s portfolio day. Steve Snider, the creative director at St.Martin's Press, was looking for a new assistant and I began working for him a few short weeks later. After three years in various positions at SMP, I moved to Farrar, Straus and Giroux where I've been happily designing for the past four years.
What is the book about?
The Finger is a witty examination of the finger's place throughout history, art, and pop culture. Trumble goes beyond the well known single digit gesture and delves into every imaginable subject related to the finger (music, gloves, nail biting, counting, sports, writing, sex, crime, religion) in ten very entertaining and fascinating chapters.
About the design process for The Finger
The design process started with looking at the art from the interior of the book. The author had highlighted great details from Caravaggio, Ingres, Rembrandt and many others. I was initially drawn to the painting Study of Hands by Largilliere, which seemed perfect with its seemingly endless fingers and gestures.
For the type, I knew I wanted something hand drawn. I had tried a few comps with my handwriting, but felt that it was not elegant enough for the painting or the book. I decided to set the type in Bickham Script and Bembo and then trace it with a pencil. It was a slow process, but I think it provided the right balance for the jacket.
First comp, with Largilliere painting.
The first comp with the Largilliere painting was shown at a jacket meeting. It was rejected for being too much about hands and not enough about fingers. At the time I thought “aren’t they kind of the same thing?”, but I am glad, in the end, that I was pushed in a new direction.
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From there, I looked at many books and art sites for a great painting that focused on the fingers. The Michelangelo felt too cliché and the El Greco was probably still too much about the hands. After a few more comps with paintings that just weren’t right, my very smart editor suggested the work of some Italian Mannerist painters. This brought me to Parmigianino’s Madonna with the Long Neck. Turns out Madonna had some pretty amazing long fingers as well! I kept my early type and was able to use a cropped section of the painting for the entire jacket.
What’s something unique you learned while working on this project?
Yes, while researching all of these paintings, I was shocked how vastly different the reproductions were in terms of color and quality. This was frustrating, but it allowed me a little freedom to adjust the color and contrast slightly for the jacket.
Also, it has been way too long since I took a survey course in Art History and I desperately needed a refresher.
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05.05.10 // Ian said:Very elegant and whimsical—just like fingers! Well some fingers anyway.
It's funny that a simple thing like putting that finger through title slightly through the counter of the "g" could make and break a cover like this. Without it, it would not be the same.
All of Carrow's work is spot on. I especially like her treatment of The Boy and Thom Gunn's selected poems. Brilliant ideas and simple but effective solutions. What graphic design is made of.