Monday, 25 May 2020

Designing Réjean Ducharme’s Swallowed

One of Canada's top book designers, David Drummond has been helping our poetry and fiction stand out for two decades. We asked him to walk us through his process in designing the cover for Swallowed, a new translation of Réjean Ducharme’s L’avalée des avalés, due out in the Fall.

"I knew from an early point in the design process that I wanted to show the main character in this novel, Berenice, being trapped or consumed by her life. These are the first two approaches I came up with, which I never showed because they weren’t quite on the mark."

"Graphically, I found this next treatment more interesting. The response from the press was that it was a fine cover, but too elegant and restrained. They wanted to convey a bit more of the madness of the girl through bright colours—vividness and extremity."

"This is the cover that was put in the catalogue because the deadline was looming. The press liked aspects of it—'how the eye appears swallowed by the yellow, to indicate the creeping madness of the young girl.' They still had some reservations about it, and wanted to revisit it in the future to see if their concerns could be addressed."

"Sure enough, the time came when they asked if I could take another crack at it. Sometimes it helps to revisit a cover design with fresh eyes. I tried to synthesize what was missing from the previous sketches and I decided to capture this notion of being swallowed. I printed out a repeating pattern of a face of a young woman with the title underneath it and made it into a cone shape. I didn’t want to distort the image in photoshop, but wanted to create an analog solution by photographing it."

"I liked the slight roughness in the image quality. You can see lines from the laserwriter printout and decided to leave them in without much retouching. The press loved the result, and felt it was the right cover for this book. They wanted to see a colour exercise before deciding on the final background colour."

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