Awesome book cover design & illustration

Book cover design/illustration

Conceived to build off the irony of the title and inspire curiosity

Jim Paluch, long time motivational speaker and author commissioned me to illustrate his latest book, The Depressed Motivational Speaker in January of 2022.

Having designed and illustrated two of his previous book covers, Jim and I know how each other work and work effectively together. The entire development of this book cover, from concept through low resolution proofs to final high resolution production, took less than four weeks.


 

The process:

Initial concept

As Jim and his wife Beth lives in New England these days, our conversations took place via Zoom. He summarized his book for me and provided me the manuscript. As it was in PDF form, I downloaded an audio-reader app so I could listen to the book more quickly than reading it. But I knew I had to know the subtleties before I could propose a cover that it truly deserved.

In our follow up conversation I verbally proposed the idea of the motivational speaker on stage, but silhouetted to infer the emptiness of the depression. I also showed several images of other book covers that I thought had a look and feel that we were looking for. These two struck us the most because of their colors, mood and lighting. I had the green light to begin my first proofs.

 

First proofs

I assembled low resolution imagery of the different elements that I wanted to play around with – the stage, a few silhouettes and a few other elements that alluded to things within the story.

After experimenting with many combinations of elements, composition and plays on the initial concept, I presented these first proofs.

Book cover design, first proofs

I saved the “Hang Man” version for last as I knew it was incredibly edgy… but so is the story.  My priority with a book cover is to try to get someone curious enough to want to turn it over and read the back information — then we may have them hooked.

The first cover with the birds: The birds play a roll in the third act of the story. They’re actually owls in the story, but I thought owls would be too overwhelming and distracting.

The third one with the guy in the cocky pose… and tennis shoes?  This character is revealed within the first ten pages. I was hoping to capitalize more on the irony of “depressed”. This guy definitely doesn’t look depressed. And the reader gets the reward of the “Ah Hah!” moment when the character is revealed and this makes perfect sense.

These went over very, very well and my client and his team had a few productive insights to try for proof 2 .

 

Second proofs

Book cover design, second proofs

Jim and his team suggested that I play with versions of owls rather than the doves I used previously. I did present a couple versions, but the owls were just too distracting. 

In real time while sharing my Zoom screen, I zoomed in on the speaker’s feet as you see above with these final two versions. We loved the focus on the sneakers, but agreed the warmer color palette was more eye-catching.

Armed with this information, I was provided the printer specifications for the entire book cover and began creating the high resolution art while my client worked on the back cover verbiage. 

Final, high resolution book cover art

From here, I had to create 600 ppi art (overkill, but that’s what the publisher requested). My client provided me a Word file of the back cover text and I laid that out along with the spine. A couple tweaks later – away it went

Maybe someday soon I’ll create an animation of my drawing process.  Below is the final art as I supplied it to the publisher. 

Jim Paluch | author

Jim Paluch | author

Barry Edwards has been a vital part of every creative project at JP Horizons for over 30 years. He always brings the design energy and expertise we need, and every collaboration is a fun adventure, yielding great results. When I asked Barry to create the cover for my newest book, “The Depressed Motivational Speaker”, he not only met with me to get an understanding of the content, but he read the entire book to make sure he represented it accurately.

– Jim Paluch

Awesome book cover design & illustration

Barry Edwards | Edwards Communications | Graphic Design & Online MarketingMy thoughts on The Depressed Motivational Speaker

A critique from the cover artist

Barry Edwards • creative director/designer


 

When presented with the initial concept I was intrigued. Let’s face it, that title is full of irony and intrigue and I knew I wanted to convey exactly that in my cover art.

Upon reading the book, I would say that my intrigue raised another level to something of admiration. Not sure if that’s the best word, but I was immersed in the writing (it moved along quickly with humor and twists).  And it soon caught my interest from the psychological angle. It had manic ups and downs of darkness and light that pieced together the complex main character with whom I identified quite a bit.

Mostly, I don’t think I ever read such an accurate definition of depression before. Perhaps because it was done through a slow building narrative and metaphors. Jim Paluch also used this technique to describe the healing process as well.

It’s not just a good, interesting and entertaining book. It’s also an IMPORTANT book. Anyone that has ever had a bout with depression at any level will likely find some revelation and catharsis by taking this journey with a unique band of characters.

 

Barry Edwards | Edwards Communications | Graphic Design & Online Marketing

My thoughts on The Depressed Motivational Speaker

A critique from the cover artist


Barry Edwards • creative director/designer


 

When presented with the initial concept I was intrigued. Let’s face it, that title is full of irony and intrigue and I knew I wanted to convey exactly that in my cover art.

Upon reading the book, I would say that my intrigue raised another level to something of admiration. Not sure if that’s the best word, but I was immersed in the writing (it moved along quickly with humor and twists).  And it soon caught my interest from the psychological angle. It had manic ups and downs of darkness and light that pieced together the complex main character with whom I identified quite a bit.

Mostly, I don’t think I ever read such an accurate definition of depression before. Perhaps because it was done through a slow building narrative and metaphors. Jim Paluch also used this technique to describe the healing process as well.

It’s not just a good, interesting and entertaining book. It’s also an IMPORTANT book. Anyone that has ever had a bout with depression at any level will likely find some revelation and catharsis by taking this journey with a unique band of characters.

 

The Depressed Motivational Speaker by Jim Paluch. Cover by Barry Edwards

Order your copy of The Depressed Motivational Speaker today on Amazon

Hardback, paperback, kindle. Your option awaits you on Amazon. Makes an excellent gift idea for any professional that has struggled with stress and self-doubt.

My recommendation is the hardbacked cover. It makes for an excellent keepsake and has the highest resolution reproduction of my cover art!

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