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Under The Cover: Eat Like An Italian


11-09-2012 09:00

Designer Graham Thew is the man responsible for Eat Like an Italian’s gorgeous look. With any cookbook, the cover is crucial – so how did Graham put this fabulous image together?

 

When you started working on the cover of Eat Like an Italian, what did you know you wanted the cover to convey?
As an avid cook and lover of quality cookbooks, this was a great opportunity to reflect the fantastic content of the recipes in as gorgeous a manner as possible. Going through the recipes it was evident that there was a genuine Italian tradition present in Catherine’s food that is usually missing from the plethora of faux-Italian wannabe cookbooks out there. This stuff is the real deal and, ideally, I wanted a timeless, elegant and sexy jacket for this one that oozed la dolce vita. Sounded simple on paper...

 

Tell me a bit about the process of designing a cover for a book like this. How did you choose the cover image? What were your criteria?
Designing cookbooks usually requires different starting points and goalposts from other types of books, particularly when they are [based on celebrity] chefs. The cover invariably has to have the author writ large and a reference to the kind of recipes on offer, or at least the kind of lifestyle personified by the book. In this case, there was a good selection of images of Catherine in different settings, but I felt that the use of typography was the starting point to differentiate this title and give it a clear Italian identity.

 

How important was finding the perfect font?
Key to the cover’s success, I’d say. I spent a long time looking at various Italian-inspired typography, from traditional 40s and 50s restaurants and cafés to some vintage Italian food and drink packaging. There were some really beautiful examples out there which helped focus the kind of direction I wanted the cover to go in. I put some examples together, each giving a different Italian-inspired approach, from traditional to more modern. Here are a few early title experiments:

Italian Text

How many different versions of the cover did you put together before choosing the final image? Take me through the different covers!
Too many! Though that was entirely my fault – I felt there were many tasty options for this cover. In fairness though, a lot of the time the typography was working but not in conjunction with the imagery; they just weren’t sitting properly together. Sometimes the magic happens right away, sometimes you have to tinker with it until things fall in place. Here are a few examples:

 

Cover Concepts

Why did you eventually decide to go with the black and white cover?
I had thought of a black and white image from early on, but felt it was probably a leap of faith too far for an Italian cookery book. When I brought it up with Nicki Howard, the Deputy Publisher at Gill Books, her initial reaction wasn’t, shall we say, glowing, but she always shows great trust in me and it really paid off. In fairness, she chose the bubblegum pink for the spine against my professional advice and proved me totally wrong; it really zings against the cover image.

 

What’s the most exciting thing about designing a cover?
Getting that rush when you know you’ve nailed the heart or intrinsic personality of a book in a beautiful, dynamic and smartypants way.

 

And the most difficult?
Having to go through the usual process of head-scratching, panic, self-delusion, chin-rubbing, creative flat-lining and panic again to get to the above.



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