Monday, April 23, 2012

Judging A Book By Its Cover

When you browse through the bookstore, what grabs your attention? Unless you’re looking for a specific title, author, or genre, it’s probably a great book cover. The cover of Ghost Burglar is the work of Minneapolis art director, and a friend for many decades, Linda Siegel.

Linda Siegel
Cover Designer for
Ghost Burglar
After learning as much as she could about the life and escapades of Bernard Welch, Linda determined that his face just had to be on the cover. With that decided, her next challenge was finding a way to depict the essence of this man and his criminal life in a single piece of art. Linda worked from a mug shot of Welch taken when he was transferred from New York’s Attica Prison (he was there during the infamous riot) to the Adirondack Correctional Treatment and Evaluation Center in Dannemora, New York. (Welch went on to escape from that prison on September 2, 1974.)

Experimenting with several different cover designs, Linda eventually incorporated a posterization effect to make Welch’s face appear ghostly. Then, she added an overlay graphic of blood and blood spatter to allude to Welch’s violent nature and the murder of Dr. Michael Halberstam. With these details nailed down, she experimented with the typography. The main title was enhanced by a drop shadow, bevel, and emboss effect and colored to match the blood. The subtitle type was chosen to recall the stories that old-time newspaper reporters pounded out on their manual typewriters while covering the police beat.

A classically trained artist, Linda has spent the better part of thirty years as one of Minneapolis and St. Paul’s most skilled art directors. Her logo designs and commercial work have been contracted by the area's leading Fortune 100 companies, nonprofits, and startup firms. For more than twenty years, she owned a mid-sized design firm aptly named SHE Graphics. She has also been a principal in three virtual creative services companies and the founder of several other small companies. Her commercial design work can be viewed at shedesignsshewrites.com.

Linda is a true Rennaissance woman. She paints, sculpts, is an accomplished gourmet cook, and creates stunning gardens. Her latest venture has taken her into the realm of interior design.

Describing the Ghost Burglar project, Linda said, “I approach design with a business mind and an artist’s eye. Once I understand the rationale and creative challenge, I just instinctively know what will work. Based on the title and content of this book, I knew that I needed to create something ghostly and gory, almost other-worldly. I wanted to design a cover that would sell from the shelves, so I needed to make it strong enough to compel a consumer to pick up the book out of curiosity without even knowing the content.”

Her instinct was right. The Ghost Burglar cover has captured plenty of attention, including earning a coveted spot in the spring announcement edition of Publisher’s Weekly, right below the latest book on O.J. Simpson. Thanks Linda.
Jack Burch

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