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.
Book Cover Design
October 2018 – June 2019 (8 Months)
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 60’s.
2. Typography Exploration
After an exploration of relevant typefaces, I decided on digitally cutting and pasting a retro typeface from 1933.
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!”
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