A book cover that I recently designed for the lovely folks at Zed Books, North Korea: A State of Paranoia is written by Paul French and is an in-depth examination of North Korea’s history and politics. It’s recently picked up book of the week in The Daily Telegraph, you can read the review here.
For the sleeve design, I initially looked into some Korean propaganda imagery, but then came across a great image on the Panos website (one of my favourite resources) by Dermot Tatlow. Taken at the demarcation zone between North and South Korean, it summed up perfectly the element of paranoia in the book’s subtitle. I cropped the image a little tighter to try and maximise the tense nature of the image and then it was just a case of using a suitable typeface to work over the image. Happily Zed chose this image and despite a few alterations the end result is very similar to the original visual.
Taking this sleeve as an example, with such a strong and successful image, my role as a designer is not always quite so obvious. It’s sometimes not so much about the flash of creative inspiration or following a particular design trend, but more about the processes involved, the image sourcing, art working, type knowledge, print knowledge, knowing what ‘works’ and successfully bringing all these elements together.