FaceOut Books Documents The Design of Book Covers

Yesterday I received a very nice e-mail from Charles Brock commenting on our post about the Book Cover Archive. Charles is principal and creative director at The DesignWork Group, and is administrator of FaceOut Books.

Charles Brock’s love of books and reading propelled him into the book cover design business over a decade ago, when The DesignWorks Group was founded in 1996. The studio specialises in – you guessed it – book cover design, and currently works with a broad base of CBA, ABA, AAUP, independent, and international publishing houses. Over the years their work has been recognised by numerous publications and associations.

James Bond Collection | Penguin Books UK · designed and illustrated by Michael Gillette
Left to right: initial sketch; second version; final cover

Together with fellow DesignWorker and award-winning designer Jason Gabbert Charles Brock runs the blog FaceOut Books.

Charles Brock explains their motivation to create the blog:

We are all passionate about book design and follow most of the book design blogs. They are very interesting, but after a period of time left us wanting more. The format of posting a cover and letting everyone comment can create interesting discussions, yet at the same time can be very limiting. We wanted an experience where we could learn from the designers themselves; have some insight into their creative process.

Chicago | HarperCollins · Designed and illustrated by Jarrod Taylor
Typefaces: Phenix American (manipulated), DIN, Gotham, ITC Veljovic
Left: sketches showing part of the creation process; right: final cover

FaceOut evolved out of Jason Gabbert’s desire to interact with the design process. Gabbert would find interesting covers and e-mail them to all the designers in the studio with his comments.

We would comment back and forth about it. Jason eventually started posting these on Design:Related under Inspirations, which got some good feedback from designers outside of our studio. Contacting the designers who designed the covers was the next step in the evolution. We would print the covers and comments, and show them in our weekly creative meeting and discuss them even more. It was such a productive and inspirational practice that we decided to turn it in into a blog so other designers could benefit from it.

Hollow Earth | Da Capo Press · Designed by Alex Camlin
Typefaces: Adobe Bickham Ornaments, map’s original calligraphy, Neutraface 1
Top: presented comps; bottom left: original image; right: final cover

Brock and Gabbert both invite and interact with the contributors, alternating posts every other week. The blog is updated every Monday. Its mission statement reads:

This venue has been created to appreciate the practice of book cover design. This is not a blog to rip apart what we dislike – everyone has a different aesthetic. This is a blog about the challenges and outcomes of a project. We are here to teach and be taught by one another.

Charles Brock elaborates:

Whether or not you like the design is not the point with FaceOut; it’s more about the process, the successes and the failures and overcoming any obstacles. To hopefully learn something or inspire someone is the goal. We have had 37 different covers and designers contribute to the blog, with many great designers in the queue. In two weeks we are planning to launch a new design and layout to the blog, as well as adding a new weekly feature.

The 351 Books of Irma Arcuri | Viking Adult · Designed by Paul Buckley; photography: Fredrik Broden
Left: initial sketch; right: final cover

Header image: In The Woods | Viking Adult · Designed by Jennifer Wang
Left: pencil drawing; right: final cover

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  1. We desperately need a video documentary on book cover design and designers.
    (well, I do, but I’m sure you do too.)

    Posted by Ricardo on Apr. 1, 2009
  2. This is a valuable resource, that I follow every week. It would be a great website to have students read.

    Posted by Nate on Apr. 1, 2009
  3. Really interesting, and I love seeing the design and thought process and evolution of the design from sketch to final artwork. More of these please!

    Posted by Adriana on Apr. 5, 2009
  4. Thanks for this post, Yves! I love the fact that Brock and associates want to share the process behind each design, and make their blog a resource for other designers.

    Posted by Ricardo Cordoba on Apr. 8, 2009
  5. In many cases the sketches are far more beautiful then the final outcome.

    Posted by Sam on Apr. 8, 2009

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