Just completed some book cover design work on for an Anaïs Nin collection. The task in this project was to rebrand a series of books for a completely different audience. An audience other than the norm. Now, I’m not sure who the “norm” is when it comes to reading Anaïs Nin, as I’ve never met any single group of people who have the corner on that market, but for this project, I made the assumption that the existing target audience contained mostly younger women in the 20-27 demographic in addition to the women who may have read her when she was still very alive and active in the 1960s and 70s (she passed away in 1977). Whether or not this is true, the task then became to develop and rebrand the covers of these books for men in the 35-50 age range.
I’ve been reading Anaïs for quite a while now and if you’ve been around any of her books for any length of time, you’ll find that as a whole, the covers don’t do any of her writings justice. I have a difficult time believing that she approved of any of them. They’re feminine enough, but they seem to lack unity, which is understandable I guess. They weren’t all published at the same time really. The content and weight of her writing far outweighs any emphasis that may or may not have been placed on her book cover designs when they were published. I knew it could be improved.
The New Demographic: 30-55 Men
I’m a high contrast kind of person, so designing a new book cover series for Anaïs’ books was right up my alley. The new demographic is vastly different from the female audience. For this collection, I focused on men who wanted to read her books in public, but didn’t want to be seen carrying around the frilly, romance novel-centric covered books on a daily basis. This demographic, or at least the men who read Anaïs, like sophistication, depth, philosophy, history and they’re generally educated and big proponents of their brand of feminism, whatever that may be. This market segments begs for dark backgrounds, silver-engraved typography, letterpress type, with a high saturation spot color (or two).
Patterns? Yes patterns.
To introduce the high saturation spot colors against the dark background, I focused on introducing something into the main design that I hadn’t seen before. Patterns. What kind of patterns? My final decision was to go with Art Deco pattern designs. Art Deco has long been one of my favorite styles in just about every facet of design, so it was a natural for capturing the essence of Anaïs. Although she authored more than 250,00o pages in her diaries, I think most of her fans remember her for the time period in between WWI and WWII. This time period included the 1920s and 30s, particularly in Paris. Art Deco patterns were a natural choice. Refined, stylish and classically beautiful. High arches. All the right curves.
Here are the final 3 examples I designed:
*If you like the patterns and want to use them for repeating backgrounds or other image work, please just email me first and let me know.
This was my first experience working with patterns like this and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll do a lot of this in the future, time permitting.
One of the things that really bothers me about sets of Anaïs’ work is just that…there are no sets. Each book has a unique title, as it should be, but it doesn’t really work very well for understanding of when the books were written and in what order. On top of that, the works are further complicated by the fact that when her diaries were released, there were “clean” versions and “raw versions.” To the casual reader, they may all seem the same, but they’re not. The “clean” versions were released during her lifetime and the racy, raw versions were released following her death. I still don’t honestly believe we’ve seen the real “raw” versions due to scrupulous editing, but still, it’s just confusing. In this series, I decided to simply give them all the same title but with a different year model. Simple. Like this…
Adobe inDesign was the tool of choice for all of the layouts and Adobe Illustrator was used to create the pattern work. Standard fare for designers these days, but still, there you go. I suppose you could have used inDesign for the entire project including the pattern design, but I’m not quite there yet and I like to use Illustrator to retain more control over the pattern itself, importing it into inDesign for further use.
If you like the collection design, let me know. I will continue to refine it over the coming months until it’s where I want it to be. Anaïs is definitely one of my favorite authors and I’d certainly like to do her work justice. You may never see these on a shelf at your favorite bookstore, but I think she’d be proud that someone thought enough of her to make these for her almost 40 years following her passing. I celebrate her every single day in my own way, and that makes me whole.