Tag Archives: design

Behind the Covers: Make Books, Not War!


“If you can remember the Sixties, you weren’t really there.”

So say many people who were in fact there and must have had a pretty interesting time. Fortunately, actual evidence exists in the form of archived book covers published by the University of Washington Press throughout that era. The decade saw an enormous output of lushly artistic and unabashedly hand-made designs that have not been documented before.

By the end of the 1950s, the press had begun defining itself as a modern publisher with a range beyond purely academic monographs. Forays into regional and trade books were made, and the need for visually striking covers converged with a burgeoning creativity and new production methods that facilitated expression. Reliable budgets and an atmosphere of growth contributed to a fertile environment for these explorations. The prolific work of Dianne Weiss and Audrey Meyer exemplify this, though contributions by Veronica Seyd, Roz Pape, Diana Bower, and uncredited others also enriched the output of the era.

The documentary Graphic Means explores graphic design production of the 1950s through the 1990s:

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Behind the Covers: ‘Scent of Apples’

5-santosDistinguished Filipino writer Bienvenido N. Santos was born on this day 105 years ago (March 22, 1911). University of Washington Press recently reissued his Scent of Apples: A Collection of Stories in the Classics of Asian American Literature series. This timely new edition includes sixteen stories Santos wrote between the 1940s and the 1970s and features a new foreword by Jessica Hagedorn and an introduction by Allan Punzalan Isaac. In this guest post, UW Press designer Dustin Kilgore walks us through his creative process in designing the book’s cover.

After reading the first-person story from which the collection draws its name, Scent of Apples, I was impressed by Santos’s ability to gracefully navigate race and class outside of his native Philippines. The title is also so evocative: smell conjures memories instantly, yet it’s fleeting, ephemeral, and difficult to define except by comparison. Continue reading

Behind the Covers: ‘Building the Golden Gate Bridge’

BehindCovers-GoldenGate-00On January 5, 1933, workers began construction on the Golden Gate Bridge. Moving beyond the familiar accounts of politics and the achievements of celebrity engineers and designers, Building the Golden Gate Bridge by Harvey Schwartz is the first book to primarily feature the voices of the workers themselves. This is the story of survivors who vividly recall the hardships, hazards, and victories of constructing the landmark span during the Great Depression. In this guest post, UW Press Senior Designer Thomas Eykemans walks us through his creative process in designing the book’s cover.

In considering ways to find a unique approach to the design of a book about an overly familiar subject that has already been portrayed in countless photographs and films, I came across a pair of commemorative plaques that had been attached to the bridge when it was completed in 1937. They featured spectacular Art Deco typography, iconic of that era, which proved to be an irresistible starting point for the cover design.


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Behind the Covers: ‘Classical Seattle’

BehindCover-ClassicalSeattle-3dThe past 50 years have seen a tremendous arts boom in Seattle, which has given the city not only internationally recognized classical music institutions but also great performance halls to showcase their work and that of visiting artists. In Classical Seattle: Maestros, Impresarios, Virtuosi, and Other Music Makers, Melinda Bargreen documents the lives of prominent figures in the local classical music world. In this guest post, UW Press Senior Designer Thomas Eykemans walks us through his creative process in designing the book’s cover.

This cover design presented a challenge that we frequently encounter: how to visually capture the essence of a rich book full of varied stories, photographs, and personalities in a singular and striking image. Though a collage approach is often tempting, it tends to dilute the composition and lessen the impact of any one image.

I looked to musical notation for inspiration in my early concepts. A musical staff with its clefs, notes, and other symbols provided a rich collection of shapes and forms from which to draw. Upon reflection, however, this direction felt a little cold and detached from the warmth of the people and stories contained within.


An early concept using abstracted musical notation.

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Behind the Covers: “The Narrative of the Sufferings of Lewis Clarke…”

Lewis George Clarke published the story of his life as a slave in 1845, after he had escaped from Kentucky and become a well-regarded abolitionist lecturer throughout the North. His book was the first work by a slave to be acquired by the Library of Congress and placed under copyright. In 2012, the University of Washington Press published a facsimile edition of Clarke’s book introduced by his great-grandson, Carver Clark Gayton. Today, UW Press senior designer Thomas Eykemans walks us through the creative process behind producing the cover to this important publication.

The title of a book can go a long way toward determining how its cover is designed. A short, punchy title can be made as bold and splashy as space allows. Most titles are a bit more descriptive, and require some creative line breaks and typographical distinctions. What, then, to do with a thirty-word title—not including the subtitle or author bylines?

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UW Press News, Reviews, and Events


Central Nigeria Unmasked: Arts of the Benue River Valley, our wonderful distribution from the Fowler Museum at UCLA, has been awarded the Arnold Rubin Outstanding Publication Award from the Arts Council of the African Studies Association.  Congratulations to the editors,  Marla C. Berns, Richard Fardon, and Sidney Littlefield Kasfir, as well as all the contributors to this wonderful volume.

This week we learned that two University of Washington Press titles received Association of American University Presses Jacket & Cover Design Awards! Senior designer Thomas Eykemans won for Temple Grove: A Novel, by Scott Elliott and designer Dustin Kilgore won for Church Resistance to Nazism in Norway, 1940-1945, by Arne Hassing. We feel very lucky to have such a talented design team on staff–congratulations to both Tom and Dustin!

Review Highlights

Charming Gardeners by David Biespiel
“On the surface, Biespiel’s poems seem like the private meditations of one man. However, his poems encompass each of us, socially and politically, by illuminating our nation’s contradictory character: a longing for enchantment in a disenchanted world.” -John Ebersole, New Books in Poetry. Listen to the full New Books interview with David Biespiel here.

Car Country: An Environmental History by Christopher W. Wells
“In Car Country, Christopher W. Wells offers a compelling history of America’s signature car-dependent landscapes.The text is at once a deft synthesis of recent literature on motor vehicles, highways, urban planning, suburban development, and land use policy, and a persuasive reinterpretation of these histories through the lens of landscape ecology. With lively anecdotes, effective imagery, and dozens of illustrations, the book also presents an accessible narrative that will help students visualize how Americans gradually and profoundly transformed their nation into a place ‘where car dependence is woven into the basic fabric of the landscape.’”  -Michael R. Fine, American Historical Review

Temple Grove: A Novel by Scott Elliott
“Elliott achieved his goal as a novelist — to help a reader fall in love with the natural world, especially that place perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. It’s a book worth reading, especially for those of us who already love the Pacific Northwest…[a] fine, timely work” -Skip Nelson, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

Upcoming Events

Courage in Action: A Symposium in Honor of the Life and Legacy of Gordon K. Hirabayashi, University of Washington, February 22 with special guest Lane Hirabayashi, coauthor of A Principled Stand: The Story of Hirbayashi v. United States

The annual meeting of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) convenes in Seattle next week. UW Press will be at the meeting, sharing booth 509 with our distribution partners, Lost Horse Press and Lynx House Press. The book exhibit will be open to the public on Saturday, March 1 so swing by our booth to check out our books and meet our authors.

P. Dee Boersma, coeditor of Penguins: Natural History and Conservation, Future of Ice Lecture Series, University of Washington Kane Hall, March 5 at 6:30 p.m.

New Books

Margins and Mainstreams: Asians in American History and Culture by Gary Y. Okihiro
The second edition of this classic work on multiculturalism features a new introduction by the author and a new preface by Moon-Ho Jung. While considering anew the meanings of Asian American social history, Okihiro argues that the core values and ideals of the nation emanate today not from the so-called mainstream but from the margins, from among Asian and African Americans, Latinos and American Indians, women, and the gay and lesbian community.

Family Revolution: Marital Strife in Contemporary Chinese Literature and Visual Culture by Hui Faye Xiao
Reading popular “divorce narratives” in fiction, film, and TV drama, Hui Faye Xiao shows that the representation of marital discord has become a cultural battleground for competing ideologies within post-revolutionary China.

Songs for a Summons by David Guterson / Distributed for Lost Horse Press
Written well into mid-life, Songs for a Summons are explorations and observations of a writing life. David Guterson is the author of Snow Falling on Cedars, recipient of the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award; East of the Mountains; Our Lady of the Forest; The Other; and Ed King. Songs for a Summons is his first poetry book.