Designer Glenn O’Neill reveals the inspiration and process behind his gilded cover for Sebastian Faulks’s new book Where my Heart Used to Beat.
The title is very lyrical and descriptive so it seemed best
to avoid depicting a figure, or people, on the jacket as it would then be assumed
to be referring directly to them. For a novel with such an emotional and
historical sweep, a more lateral strategy was required. Any illustrative or
photographic element would need to allude to the title, rather than be overly specific.
I began the design process by simply laying out the
typography, and seeing where it led. The most satisfying word breaks occurred
where the title occupied four lines; it seemed to give a slow, considered rhythm
when read back. This felt appropriate considering the author adapted the words of
the title from the Alfred Lord Tennyson poem, In Memoriam. The lettering used (the font Requiem), benefited being in all lower case. Subliminally it looks
more personal. I also considered, but rejected, using handwritten calligraphy, which
did initially suggest itself as hand-penned correspondence features often
within the narrative.
So I had typographic structure, with the lettering ranging
from the right hand side. Now the jacket needed elements to complement the type,
without revealing too much of the story.
The book spans the twentieth century,
with both world wars being pivotal to the lives of the novel’s protagonists.
Its locations range from an island off France to the coast and beaches of Anzio
in 1944, to England in the 1960s and back to the trenches of the Western Front.
Amongst many threads the novel covers a passionate love affair, the nature of
memory, and a doctor’s research into the workings of the mind. I
consulted with the author and publisher on ideas that may be interpreted
I initially tried a general background
of marble statuary behind the lettering, kept vague enough that it may also be
read as human flesh. The effect was too coldly classical. Then I thought again
of the letters sent by soldiers back from the war zones, many officially edited
to prevent troop positions being compromised. I photographed strips of torn paper
thinking these could suggest censorship, and lay them horizontally under the
lettering, it looked effective, but it needed more.
A couple of the torn edges resembled shorelines,
the kind of serendipity that I like to exploit where possible. I enhanced by
importing rock textures from pictures of Mediterranean coastlines. A monochrome
photograph of Sicily, sourced from Getty images, had the most elegiac feel. The
reflections and glinting of the sea added a further dimension. Keeping the
effect semi-abstract was important: the layering is not always logical and the
sea textures lie translucently over the land in a couple of places in the
design. This suggested to me layers of memory and the past intermingling with
the present – a major theme of the book.
The strips of coastline continue onto
the back of the book, contrasted in scale by ghosted impressions of umbrella
pines on the flaps and annotated illustrations of sea urchins on the endpapers
– both organic elements that are described within the text.
Various colourways were explored, the
most effective being a warm terracotta, harmonising with greys and golds on an
ivory texture. The design was proofed up by overprinting some sections on to a
silver foil, giving an iridescent lustre to the final jacket.
Where my Heart Used to Beat is available on 10 September, so you can see Glenn O’Neill’s cover design, and the stunning sea anemone inside cover first-hand.
Somehow, between working full-time as the visual mastermind redefining the Martletand caring for his (adorable) newborn baby, Penelope, Glen O'Neill finds time to run an artistic empire in the form of Glen O'Neill Dot Com and his hair-brained charity series Beards, Mostly, on top of giving away a boutique’s worth of free t-shirts he designed himself. And in his off hours, if you can call them that, he’s hunched over the drawing board working on more of his trademark cheeky, lighthearted creations. He sat down with Mosaic to explain how he does it, read on to find out.
I’m not just saying this because he has a beard, a family to raise, or because he likes Star Wars. I’m saying this because he does some really great work. In fact one of his prints is hanging above my desk in my office.
Oh, and he’s from Victoria, BC. That usually makes anyone cool in my books. Support a local artist by voting for this sweet design for the Climate Change Project T-Shirt Challenge on Threadless. His design is streets ahead of the competition.
Illustration wizard and Martlet visionary Glen O'Neillhas submitted a design to the Threadless Climate Project T-Shirt Challenge. Each entrant has designed a T-shirt concept to illuminate the truth about climate change, and the public gets to vote on their favourite. Check out Glen’s design to the right, then head over to vote. If you give him a five, I’m sure he’ll slap you five next time you see him.
Video: One family's urgent fight to save their daughter's life
by Carolyn Robertson posted in Mom Stories Eliza O’Neill is four years old. She loves Dora the Explorer, dressing up, singing, dancing, playing around with her big brother Beckham. But in 6 months Eliza may not be able to talk, and in 2 years she may not be able to walk. She’ll develop seizures, she’ll… Read more »
Want to get the full story? Click on the headline above. And thanks for reading the BabyCenter Blog.