Who hasn’t bought a book based solely on the cover design? Go into a bookstore and it’s almost like entering an art gallery. Covers entice us into the book, acting as alluring seductresses, promising us adventure or scares, inviting us to new worlds. The YA sphere especially, in my opinion, has really stepped up the cover game in recent years—which meant that the cover for Specter had to be good. Really, really good.
I knew that Specter needed a particular kind of cover—one that fit in with the YA aesthetic, was reminiscent of Stranger Things, and wasn’t too hokey or corny. After a lengthy search for the right cover designer and a couple serious bouts of frustration, I chanced upon Liana Moisescu and fell in love with her work instantly.
What really drew me to Liana’s designs was her versatility. Every project Liana works on is unique; she takes the unique qualities of each book into consideration, rather than trying to force each book into a specific design aesthetic. I was absolutely thrilled when I received the final design back from her. It’s gorgeous, it’s mysterious, and, most importantly, it encapsulates the feel of Specter perfectly.
So I wanted to sit down with Liana and pick her brain a bit about covers to get a peek of the magic taking place behind the curtain. Enjoy the interview!
What is your artistic background, and how did you get into cover design specifically?
I’ve always been interested in art and all things beautiful but also in science, so I pursued the latter by attending a Biotechnology college. My path took me towards my artistic nature, and I found myself creating and designing ads for a fashion company. From there things escalated quite quickly, and I really started loving all things graphic design, I also started dabbling in photography, painting, and drawing.
I’m a passionate reader, always have been, so I naturally pursued book cover design as it’s such a fascinating niche. Book covers can have so much variety with genres and design styles.
Are you a reader yourself? Any favorite covers?
YES! I love reading fiction mainly, more specifically sci-fi, legal thrillers, fantasy, and crime/mystery books, but I also read the occasional nonfiction self-help or science genres. I have tons of favorite covers, to name a few Blood & Water by Alana Newman, The Maker of Swans by Paraic O’Donnell, Parasite by Mira Grant, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride, The Great Reset by Richard Florida, The Night Ocean by Paul Lafarge and many more!
If you could design a cover for any existing book, which one would you pick?
There have been a ton of redesigns for the Harry Potter series by professionals and fans alike, and I love the more recent, modern ones. One that stands out for me is by Olly Moss, with modern, fun artwork. It would be a dream to have a chance to illustrate a new edition of the covers. I grew up with the Harry Potter world and already have tons of ideas for the style and design elements.
What makes a good cover, in your opinion?
There is no exact formula that makes a cover good as it’s such a subjective matter, and as a designer you learn to accept and appreciate so many styles. However, for me, it has to have an element that stands out, whether it is the font style or layout, or a clever graphic. A bold color will appeal most of the time, but it’s not necessary for a cover to be eye-catching. I also love a design that is minimal and not cluttered and that also has a surprising element, something original and fun (or pertinent to the genre). Quite a tall order, I know!
Are there any little details you consider when making a cover that most people wouldn’t expect?
There are a lot of interesting little details, like maybe lining up the top of the back cover elements with the spine and front cover so everything looks clean and neat (not in every case of course). Or maybe calculating the dimensions and creating a template, or spending hours finding that perfect image or font that would tie everything together. There are tons of small aspects like these that come into the process of designing a book, and they’re all part of the fun.
Any pet peeves when it comes to popular cover design that drive you bananas? Recent design trends, etc?
I’ve learned to love and appreciate trends and different styles as they’re just indicators of what people are attracted to in a design at that point in time. Of course, I do have my own preferences, and I have seen collage design gaining a lot of popularity. When done right and when it has meaning it can be gorgeous, but sometimes it’s done just for the sake of the trend without any true significance. I suppose that does tick me off just a little, however, design and art are always open to interpretation and subjective to the eyes of the viewer so maybe I’m just missing the point entirely, who knows? That got deep!
You have tons of experience working with authors to craft the perfect cover. Do you have any advice for new authors who are going to be working with a designer for the first time? From a designer’s perspective, what should authors do to help make that working relationship successful?
The designer-client relationship can be easy to navigate if both parties are willing to communicate. From my experience, that is the key. As a designer I always give my client a little “brief” of my own, asking them what styles, fonts, colors they prefer and what covers they love, what cover they dislike, etc and their willingness to share as many details as possible will give the designer a clear understanding of the concept they envision. Of course, sometimes the client doesn’t have a clear vision for the design, and again communication comes in. Brainstorming and sharing ideas back and forth is a great way to figure out which direction to take.
Do you prefer getting a lot of specific details from your clients about their vision for a project or would you rather have more freedom to craft the project?
Great question, that depends a lot on the client and how clearly they visualize their book cover artwork. If they have a specific concept in mind, this is what I’ll create and maybe suggest different ideas or changes if something doesn’t feel right. As an appendix to the previous question, another piece of advice for an author is being flexible and trusting their designer. Many times, an idea can sound good but on paper it can have some flaws that only an experienced designer can point out and fix. So good communication, flexibility and trusting your designer.
Creative freedom is also a wonderful direction, I wholeheartedly enjoy both ways of collaborating with a client.
Thank you so much for giving us your insight about cover design! Where can we find you online?
You can invite me to work on 99designs, and here’s a small sample of my work, as well as my Twitter.
What are your favorite covers as of late? Comment down below!
And a small aside—if you haven’t seen the book trailer for Specter yet, check it out! Specter debuts THIS SUNDAY, July 7th, and the paperback and ebook are available for preorder at all major retailers and from Hidden Bower Press.