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Client:   Twelve / Grand Central Publishing

Added:   April 16, 2009

Updated:   January 24, 2011

Views: 3956


by Dave Cullen
Art Director: Flamur "Flag" Tonuzi // Twelve Books - Grand Central Publishing

Photograph by: Steve Peterson / ZUMA Press

• An Art Directors Club GOLD Cube Winner
• A Type Directors Club Winner
• A Most Coveted Covers Selection, No. 215

I thought that like 9/11, this was a regular day in the life of a regular high school. I wanted to depict the banality of school life. Lockers, linoleum floor tiles, classrooms, students shuffling between classes.

At first I used stock images of school hallway. But they were looking too pretty, too much poetry. Is that possible? And I thought if I continued this approach, it wouldn't make sense if I didn't use an image from the actual Columbine high school.

I also had to explore using the classroom video feed made during the shooting. But I already knew it would have been too exploitative and painful to use on the final jacket.

In the end, I didn't want to say anything or felt the need to frame the book in any Point-of-View. What really needs to be said? The Publisher had already set the tone for me. As far as the cover copy, there was no author's name, no descriptive subtitle, no high school, just the word COLUMBINE on the front cover. That said it all. So I pulled all the way out of the school's interior and used an exterior news photo of the high school that photo-researcher Laura Wyss found for me. I made it as small as I could and cropped out any distracting elements and set it low on the page. I extended the gray skies heavenward and set the title small and floating in knock out white from a light sky. The contrast was subtle. K.I.S.S. Keep It Subtle Stupid. Hopefully the dramatically haunting spareness will draw you in. The final has a matte lamination with the title in spot gloss to punch it out a little. Because you still gotta read it from across the room.

I was told that the Sales department wanted to change the type solution to make it more legible because they were worried that the cover wouldn't reproduce well in Amazon. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. But thankfully the Publishers loved it just the way it is. Me too.
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Jason Gabbert said on May 06, 2009

Love them Henry! The first and second are very eye catching! But the first definitely leaves you with the mood.

Andrei Scarlatescu said on May 07, 2009

Really loving the colours, some inspirational cover!

Adam Doyle said on February 15, 2011

Totally on key. You really captured the weight of the event without hitting any trite notes. Stunning.