Tag Archives: cover

Do Judge A Book By It’s Cover

Evie & Maria’s (S2) book cover design was a runner up for the Scottish Book Cover Competition 2016-2017. I love how they’ve bisected the cover, showing different characters from the book. 

Shannah’s (S6) photo cover of a frozen spider web and Niamh’s (S6) watercolour painting also received recognition for their entries. All four girls received book vouchers and a certificate for their skills. 



This month’s Pupil Spotlight is on a pupil from my Int 2 Photography class. Jenna M (OLSP) didn’t really think she had a skill for photography, though I completely disagree. Her shots display a level of layers that peel apart, the more you examine the image.

jenna manray b&w

The above image is Jenna’s Manray inspired image. Several different poses were photographed and each variation on the left eye was placed and merged onto her cheek using Photoshop. This photo reminds me of the work of Charles Burns, expecially his ‘Black Hole’ graphic novel. It’s got that mutant feel, though still looks very pretty.

Below, Jenna creates a single cover for the band ‘Passenger’. Using a variety of different photographs (taken herself, no Google Images here!), composited together and then, looking at the type of David Carson, she laid out the image (finding and downloading her own free for use fonts). It’s absolutely brilliant and one of the best designs I’ve seen from a pupil. It’s things like this that make me happy to be a teacher. Great work!!

jenna album cover flat bw final cover

It’s Not Always A Success…

I have had a few successes, working with/for artists and musicians that most would consider famous or have achieved the right amount of respectable attention, though it’s not always been pure sailing. For the small amount of projects I could brag about and get your attention, there have also been a multitude of designs that haven’t gone exactly as planned. I thought I should feature some of these below, to show you that you should never give up. You will be ignored and rejected a lot (well… I am), but sometimes you’ll get it just right and art is all about the little wins.

Above is a never used cover for the indie band ‘Language of Flowers‘. I spent a long time creating the right feel. The root system lettering alone took around three days, though Shelf Life Records ended up going with this atrocity. A lot of the time, good designs will be pushed out just to feature a picture of the artist, it’s always a safe move for the record company, but it’s incredibly boring. Below you’ll see a completely rejected redesign of Vic Rattlehead for Megadeth. It was developed for a competition ran on Deviant Art, getting into the shortlisted stage I was able to get a comment from Dave Mustaine (singer, lead guitarist) stating that ‘it was incredibly cute but way off for the branding of the band’ [paraphrased, I can’t remember the exact comment, but that’s the jist of it].

The cover below was for Fiona Apple‘s 2005 comeback album. She had been incredibly big, especially with her single ‘Fast as you can’, then took some time out to re-invent herself. Her ‘Extraordinary Machine’ album was very quirky, slightly Tom Waits, very unusual. I thought this modern cover would have been a great addition to her lyrical intention. Focusing on computers, analog machines, humanity and her. I worked hard to get an image of Fiona onto the cover and then Epic Records went all left field and chose this?

I really liked the logo below for the band ‘armaeda‘. I decided that it would be interesting to make a typeface out of the exact same character. If you look closely, all the letters are the same character, rotated and faded. Unfortunately for me, the band quit before they had even begun and the logo was never used. The same thing happened to ‘Son of Shrimp‘ below. I am usually quite proud of the work I pass on, so it’s a shame to never see it getting used.

The NIN (Nine Inch Nails) cover below was for the album ‘With Teeth’. There had been a call out on 99designs and I thought I’d give it a go. I don’t really like this cover at all, though I feel it is very NIN. They ended up going with this idea, which is a lot better than mine…

I am a huge fan of Karl Pilkington and have followed him since the first podcast with Gervais and Merchant.  I had emailed them a few times and got some replies, so when I heard that he was getting a book together I thought I’d try my luck at sending them this idea (not finished, it’s just a low res. thumbnail) for the book cover. I never got a reply and they ended up going with some photo of Karl sitting down… so safe, so boring.

So there you go. Just some of the tries and fails that I have experienced in my long and torturous career. I’m slightly depressed now… What was my point again? Oh yeah… Don’t give up… Get frustrated and go demented over rejections and endless workloads… like me.


This week’s Artwork of the Week comes from Eilidh G (S3, OLSP). I have never seen any of Eilidh’s work before, but after seeing her tiger fur drawing and machine cog sketch for a CD design she is currently working on, I’m yearning to see more. Eilidh’s sketching style is both intense, but on the side of freedom drawing (drawing carefree). I don’t know how she manages it, but I love her stylistic approach. This can only be achieved through very keen observations and great focus. You can’t fake this talent. Great stuff Eilidh! I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of her work on here.

Artwork For Friends

Becoming A Professional Designer – Part One

I’ve recently been working on a friend’s band album art and t-shirt design. It’s always incredibly difficult to work for friends, deciding if you should charge them, what you should charge and if you give away a freebie, will you be stuck providing freebies for the rest of your life. As an ex-freelance designer, I used to find it difficult to say ‘no’ to work, no matter if it was free work or paid. Every job is an opportunity to sell yourself, every job is another step closer to getting the perfect job. Though I have learned to say ‘no’, I can now pick and choose the design jobs I want to get involved in. I don’t need to prove myself, I don’t even need to do them anymore financially, teaching pays my mortgage.

As an ex-freelance designer, I always have time for my friends. Lots of the artists turned professional, that I know, forget about their friends awfully quickly after they’ve had a little bit of success or fame. They start to believe the hype pushed onto them and when that dies down, the fall is so much greater and without your friends there, there’s no one to catch you on the way down. I always have time for my friends, for their ideas, for their trust and for their loyalty in asking me for my talents.

Always make time for your friends, do the best job you can for them, if they are a friend, they’ll see the work and they’ll pay you in whatever way they can. If you’re wondering what to charge, I’d always charge a friend rate of £80 (usually for around £20 an hour for 4 hours work), it’s not a lot, but it’s a little gauge of the work that you have put into it, especially in your spare time. Most of my friends who I have invoiced end up paying more for the work anyway, they don’t want to offend you for paying you pittance for your talents. Friends are friends and time is money, you’ll have to find your own compromise.

If you do the work and you’re not happy with the feedback or payment, next time, just say ‘no’. You can’t feel forced to involve your talents for something that annoys you.

I have been doing these Clay covers on and off for over ten years now, I enjoy pleasing my friends and giving them what they what, while staying true to myself and producing something I’m still proud to attach my name to. It’s a tough thing to do in design. It’s a very fine balance to keep.

This week I’ll upload some forms to help you handle your design work professionally. Tomorrow I will start the whole thing off by featuring an invoice form for claiming your cash.