Procession of the Dead
Author: Darren Shan
Designer: Catherine Casalino
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Typeface: The title and author type are shadows cast by small metal letters. The spine is set in Trade Gothic and the flaps and back are in set in Whitney.
Specials: The cover is printed on Neenah Linen stock. (see detail shot of the paper texture) It was a 4-color job with an extra hit of black. I got to go on press at Coral Graphics when it was printed and that was great.
Thank you so much to Catherine for her patience. I've been wanting to post this for a while. It's difficult to pick a favorite of all our posts but this is the top for me. I love this jacket. It's beautiful.
How did you become a book cover designer?
I moved to New York the Summer of 2003 to participate in NYU's Publishing Institute. I had an English degree and wanted to work in magazines, because of my interest in photography. During the NYU program, Rodrigo Corral and John Fulbrook came in to talk about book cover design. I really liked their presentation and wrote them both emails. Rodrigo invited me to drop by his studio to show him my photography portfolio. I had no graphic design experience (aside from a Pagemaker class in high school) but, miraculously, he asked me if I wanted to intern with him.
I started out doing image research and retouching because I knew some Photoshop. I remember the first day I was there, Rodrigo handed me a stack of New Yorkers and had me cut out images I liked and file them according to illustration or photography style.
I ended up working at Rodrigo Corral Design for about 3 years, getting promoted from intern to junior designer to designer. It was a phenomenal education. When I left Rodrigo's, I went to work with at Simon & Schuster where John Fulbrook was an Art Director— another phenomenal education. Imagine if I had skipped class the day of their NYU presentation! My life would be totally different!
What do you enjoy about your job?
The variety . . . and the books! I get to work on so many different kinds of books, so every day I have a completely new problem to solve. It really keeps you on your toes. I also like that I get to work with so many great photographers and illustrators.
What is Procession of the Dead about?
It's a post apocalyptical thriller that is set in a gotham-esque city. The main character, Capac, works for the city's ruler, a dark and mysterious man called The Cardinal.
Were there any constraints from the client?
Darren Shan is also the author of a very popular Young dult series called Cirque du Freak, so it was important that this book did not look too YA.
Were there any steps taken before you started designing?
I read the book and did some mood-boarding— pulling various images that I thought reflected the tone of the book. And lots of thinking!
Was there a clear working process that led to the final?
The process on this cover was a bit different than my normal process— very stop and start. The idea for the cover came right out of the book— there's a scene where Capac visits The Cardinal's office and notices that he has all these puppets hanging from the walls. And in the midst of all these puppets, The Cardinal is playing with this shadow puppet theater. While Capac is watching, The Cardinal moves his hands away from the shadow puppets . . . and they continue to move. I read that scene and thought, "Wow, something else is going on here . . ." I wanted to evoke that mood with the cover— something creepy that makes you wonder what's going on.
Shadow Puppet image research
So, I had this idea that I really liked. And then I didn't know how to take the next step, how to translate the idea of shadow puppets into a book cover. I finally came up with the idea that I could make "shadow puppets" out of the letters in the title. And then I had to figure out how to achieve that.
As a graphic designer, I'm a huge collector of "things that might be useful." I had several boxes of small metal letters that I had picked up a few years ago at a Marshall's in Connecticut, and they ended up being perfect for the project. (I think they're intended for scrapbooking). I taped the letters to thin wooden skewers and stuck them in florist's foam. I placed the set up behind a sheet and lit everything from behind.
Did you collaborate with anyone? How was that process?
No. Although one sort-of collaborative thing happened: After I shot the cover, I showed my Creative Director, Anne Twomey, the images and explained where the idea came from. I had photoshopped a shadow puppet into the frame. It turned out that Anne had an actual shadow puppet from Thailand at home! She brought it in and I re-shot the cover with the puppet in place.
Were there any known influences that led to your solution?
I loved puppets as a kid! My mom still has them all.
Did the project have any unique struggles?
It took me a long time to get to the point where I started executing the idea— I really had to figure out how it would work technically, first. Getting the title and author name to be legible was really tough since the whole set up was so delicate. You'd move one letter and it would screw up the shadow of the letter next to it. It took many hours to get the set-up how I wanted it.
Also, at first, they wanted to credit the author as "D. B. Shan" to differentiate from his YA books, but later they changed it to "Darren Shan," so I had to reshoot the whole thing. You can see some of the earlier process photos have the first version of the author name.
Were there any other solutions outside the final?
This was the only direction I pursued
What 's something unique you learned while working on this project?
Taking the time to plan out a cover is really important. I also think it's important not to compromise your vision, even if it means a lot more work. I could have done something like this in Photoshop, but it wouldn't have been as strong and natural looking.
More work by Catherine Casalino.
Please visit www.catherinecasalino.com/ to see even more of Catherine's work.
4.25.11 // Ian said:I Wonderful. I've always been curious how Casalino came upon the brilliantly simple and powerful solution for The Act of Love—another post. Pulling this off effectively in PS would have been a process just as grueling as shooting it all—and you still would miss some of the fine nuances... Great post.