Earlier this week, we revealed the chapbook cover for Julie Howd’s Threshold. Working with Julie Howd and editor Claire Bowman has been such a dream, which allowed me the space to focus on becoming familiar with the work and creating mock-ups that align with the content.
T H E W O R K
The twenty-eight poems in Threshold are each bustling with incredible imagery. So, the mock-up-palooza I mention below will make complete sense once you begin to read this book and more of Julie Howd’s writing. It’s medieval & genius, but down-to-earth and apocalypta-futuristic. It is loud inner-thoughts but also feels like you’re observing life from a satellite hovering over the moon. It’s delicate but vulgar… you get it… this cover could have gone in many different directions, but I love where we settled.
During the editing process, we noticed that Julie’s work harbors a lot of complexity. There’s use of large, medieval words and playful language. But every line of every poem is coroneted, meaning that the beginning of each line is capitalized, which gives us consistency to hold onto; the structure of Julie’s writing is reliable so her mind can run rampant. For the cover, clean and elegant and just a tiny bit complex was the perfect way to go.
T H E I M A G E
In rare form, I did not refer to my own photography or illustrations for the final cover. Instead, for this final product, I searched for public domain images like the vintage illustration above. From the beginning, two ideas were at the forefront: nature & the concept of a threshold. Thinking about nature: I considered blooms, forests, bundles of flowers, for reasons indicated below…lemons. Thinking about threshold: I considered location, maps, heaven and hell, life and death, etc.
Eventually, the two concepts merged to bring us a single rose that breaks through a threshold. The threshold for this cover is illustrated with a charcoal background and shifting the color of the rose from green and pink to white and gray.
This effect was brought to life by experimenting with the relationship between the opacity of the image and the background color—exaggerated by a diagonal line across the cover and tilting the image in the opposite direction.
The final decision regarding the image and cover was let the rose bleed off the page over the spine and into the back. Initially, it felt like it lacked complexity and this was the perfect subtle touch that sincerely complimented the work.
T Y P O G R A P H Y
During our brainstorming sessions and the mock-up-palooza, editor Claire Bowman discovered this delightful type named IM FELL English. We used this type for a series of mock-ups that looked like seed packets, which leaned heavily on our nature ideas. For the final cover, IM FELL (italics) was used to balance the san serif font. For the title, we went simple: Abadi MT Pro with generous kerning. Because of the clean chaos of the image towards the top and center of the page, we placed the title and the name towards the bottom of the page in proximity of each other and centered.
B R A I N S T O R M I N G
Threshold felt like a controlled, yet incredibly wild book and concept that presented wildly different mock-up options as I worked through it. There was a series of art I created for the book titled Lemon / Limen (inspired by a conversation with Julie in which she said limen and the uncultured part of my brain heard lemon), I used old photographs of lightbulbs (far right), I created nature inspired collages (center), experimented with maps—you name it, I attempted to create it!
After consulting with Julie, I was able to narrow down what she loved and that brought us to our final cover.
T H E G R A N D F I N A L E
Our chapbook covers are deliberately simple. Longer books often contain blurbs, bios, sometimes even author portraits on the back, but chapbooks are notoriously simple and clean. The information on the back cover for Threshold is consistent with the other two chapbook prize winners: price, prize announcement, and publisher name and location.
I color matched the back to the nearly-black/charcoal color on the front. The pink typography matches the color of what is on the front. The type is the same as the title, but I decided to go all-caps with tons of kerning for the back.
The final product in print is incredibly stunning—the reds and pinks are vibrant. The charcoal, deep. To protect the book’s color and general longevity, we added a matte aqueous finish. Remarkable to hold, ready to love.