Rejected Covers is part of an ongoing series on rejected book cover designs, in which we invite cover artists to reveal some of the rejected ideas and inspirations behind a particular project.
In your own words, what is this book about?
The story of two women cyclists competing for an Olympic gold medal, while their private lives fall apart.
What was the mood, theme or specific moment from the text you depicted with this cover?
The theme the book is the idea of competition that changes into cooperation. The gold trophy is really not the prize object, but the connective tissue between the lives of these two very different women.
What inspires your design?
Chris Cleave’s tremendously successful book “Little Bee," that I also designed. I used a silhouette of a black woman against a brilliantly colorful background and swash typography. In order to capitalize on that audience, I knew that I had to use some of those same elements in order to create some brand recognition.
What is your previous design experience, with books and otherwise?
I was Senior Art Director for HarperCollins for five years and before that, Art Director for Broadway Books. Nowadays I have my own design studio, de Vicq Design. Half of our clients are still in publishing while the other half is restaurant design, branding and marketing with an emphasis on typography.
What was the biggest challenge in designing this cover?
How to repeat myself without ripping myself off and how to keep the integrity of the new design after a huge success like "Little Bee."
Did you consider different ideas or directions for this cover? Why were these rejected? Do you have a favorite amongst them? Are you happy with the final decisions as it ran?
My first two ideas: two women looking at each other creating the outline of the trophy in the background (#1) and the impossible bicycle, representing the two main characters working against each other (#2). They liked both ideas but wanted the type to be bigger on the bicycle (#4) and more scripty in the profile one (#3). They also wanted more contrast between the foreground & background. They picked the two women, and I finessed the type and the profile (#5). At the last moment they wanted to add the same typeface and frame around the authors name to make it look like more like Little Bee. I still prefer number 5.
What is the most important element of a successful book cover?
To grab the attention of the customer, and be indelible in his memory.
What are some of your favorite book covers?
Too many to count but certainly any book cover that arouses a feeling of awe and jealousy towards the designer. When this happens, I murmur to myself, “Too much talent, I have to kill him." Anything designed by Will Staehle especially the Michael Chabon covers for "The Yiddish Police Union" and "Manhood for Amateurs." Anything designed by Matteo Bologna like "The Ten: Make That Nine Habits of Very Organized People. Make That Ten" by Steve Martin. Anything designed by Jamie Keenan like "Then We Come to the End" by Joshua Ferris or "Happiness" by Richard Layard. Anything designed by Jonathan Gray like "Extremely Loud and Incredible Close" and "Everything is Illuminated" by Jonathan Safran Foer. "The Kama Sutra" Penguin Classic Deluxe Edition designed by Paul Buckley. "On Beauty" by Zadie Smith designed by Henrik Kubel. "The Prince" by Machiavelli designed by Jaya Micelli
Do you judge books by their covers?
Not the books themselves but definitely the publishing house.
Check out Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich's design process: