Web Design & Book Cover Design

Richard W Thomas • Book COver & Web Design Project

Richard W. Thomas is an historian, advocate for racial amity, poet, and author that has 9 published books, and is a retired Professor Emeritus of History at Michigan State University.




To design the book cover and website for his latest book, a retrospective collection of poetry.


Web Design
Book Cover Design

Project Duration

October 2018 – June 2019 (8 Months)

Laptop showing the Richard Thomas website

Published Books

Published Poems

Esteemed Awards

The Design Process

Working directly with the author and the publisher, we had a series of meetings over the course of several months to discuss the scope of the project, the style of the cover design, and the details of the other deliverables for the project. It was an incredibly rewarding process from start to finish and it was very fulfilling to attend one of Dr. Thomas’ book readings soon after the publication of his book.

1. Ideation & Research

Included reading the manuscript, interviewing the author, researching poetry books, and art styles of the 60s.

2. Typography Exploration

After an exploration of relevant typefaces, I decided on digitally cutting and pasting a retro typeface from 1933.

3. Mockups

Three main concepts were explored: a classic hardcover, a top-down view of a writer’s desk, and a photo collage.

4. Image Collection

Once the concept was decided upon, I set out to curate images, both digitally and scanned from physical media.

5. Book Cover Design

The final cover design combined photographs, publication covers, and letters significant to the author.

6. Business Card Design

Building on the same style, I recreated the cover collage on matte business cards with a suede-like finish.

7. Poster Design

The poster was designed to introduce the book and author when displayed at live events and book signings.

8. Website Design

The one-page website design served as a brochure site to help readers contact the author and order books.

9. Website Development

The simple website was created with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It also used PHP for the contact form.

Ideation & Research

After familiarizing myself with the subject matter by reading the manuscript and interviewing the author, I researched both modern and 1960’s-era poetry book covers. Visually I wanted to create something reminiscent of the hand-painted signs of the civil rights movement so I the chose the font shown below (Egyptian Plain).

Hand painted typography example signage

Typography Exploration

I then compiled a collection of typefaces that had a similar hand-painted feeling that I felt would match the style. After this exploration, I decided to digitally cut and paste the letters from the typeface Egyptian Plain (shown above). Paired with this I used a cursive, hand-drawn typeface to contrast with it.

Hand painted typography example signage


I presented three concepts for the cover design: 1. a top-down view of an artist’s writing desk covered with papers, photographs and other objects; 2. a classic hard-cover design with the typography printed directly onto the hard cover; and 3. a collage of relevant images overlaid with bold red to signify the turbulence of the era.

Front and back of Richard Thomas Business Cards

Image Collection

I then curated the collection of images that would make up the cover collage. The vast majority were family photos, books, letters, and other printed materials that I received from the author to scan, but several significant photographs were found and the rights holders were contacted to seek permission for reprinting them.

A collection of photographs, letters, magazine articles, and book covers

Book Cover Design

Once the collecting of images was completed, I then created the collaged cover in a style reminiscent of the Blue Note Records album covers of the sixties and seventies. The bold and dark red color scheme was chosen to represent the turbulent period of civil unrest of Detroit in the 1960’s during the civil rights movement.

Two books showing front and back covers
A collage of 100 website homepages
Laptop, smartphone and tablet all showing Richard Thomas' website home page
Book Bottom Corner Mockup Image
Book Top Corner Mockup Image

Business Card Design

The business card designs recreated the book cover collage on one side while flipping the collage horizontally and darkening the color scheme to increase the contrast for the smaller text. I also setup a Facebook business Page and business email address to help the author manage the promotion of the book once it was published.

Richard W Thomas Business Card Mockup showing a grid of his business cards

Poster Design

The cover collage was repurposed for this poster, which was created to promote the book as well as the author’s contact information, to be put on display at book readings or other in-person events. The design was like that of the book laying open but flipped since viewers would be reading it from left to right.


Website Design

The website was created to be a brochure site to promote the book and provide an easy way to contact the author. The book cover collage was again reconfigured for each header graphic on the site. The site also contains several photos of Dr. Thomas, a review of the book, a contact form, and links to his Amazon and Facebook pages.

Laptop, smartphone and tablet all showing Richard Thomas' website home page

Website Development

This simple, static, one-page website was written with HTML and CSS, and includes some simple JavaScript animations. The contact form also utilizes PHP. 

Laptop, smartphone and tablet all showing Richard Thomas' website home page

What’s Next

Since the release of his poetry anthology and retrospective, Going Home to My Soul: Collected Poems and Narrative in 2019, Dr. Thomas has been doing speaking engagements, hosting book readings, enjoying his retirement, as well as writing and publishing his most recent book, Anchor of Faith: The Enduring Spirit of the Black Men’s Gathering (2022). 

“Hopeful Press went into a first time book publishing effort with high hopes and little experience. With the expert help of Nehemiah 9 Design we were able to produce a truly high quality book with both a great cover and a well thought out interior design. Nehemiah also helped us with a website, advise on the use of social media, business cards and other business related items. He listened carefully to our hopeful thoughts and brought his best to the table. The book is doing very well!!!”

Rhonda Palmer

Publisher, Hopeful Press

Our Other Design Projects

Click on one of our recent projects below to see a case study for an in-depth look at our design process.

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