Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fake Book Covers

Jake is loaded with Young Man's Ennui: his life is full of beer, chocolate, pissing away the workday, and attempts at hipster-friendly self-deprecating dry humor. However, in his spare time (where else could he fit anything in?!?) he uses Photoshop to change photographs into book covers for books that don't exist. He's so proud of his work that he splurged on a domain name and some hand-drawn fonts for quirky cred, but the site hasn't been up long, so there's only a few examples.

As far as what he's got up so far, it's clearly an exercise in trying to produce art by only knowing the outcome without understanding the process, like your uncle Ben plinking on the piano, certain he could write commercial jingles despite his lack of musical training. Not that book covers are that complex, but Jake's results are hit and miss. When they do hit, however, they can be quite good. Many of his fake book-covers fall into the Lulu/PublishAmerica fallacy that overlaying a fancy font is enough to make a cover. When the covers do work, however, Jake stumbles upon some basic design skills, making the font and the structure of the cover work together, like the example above and this one. Those two create intriguing covers that don't explicitly tell anything about the story, but encourage the reader to delve further. In the one above, you wonder, "which one is the painter?" "where are they at?" "why are they walking together, close enough to be friends, but with a respectable 'personal space'?" The image has a lot of lines that tend to intesect between the walker's heads, but the title and subtitle are cock-eyed in a way that their perpendicular lines intersect at the horizon, just above the people's heads; the tall structure of the bridge on the right is balanced on the left by the off-centered walkers — it creates a lot of movement to keep the eye drawn to the cover, which is exactly what you want it to do. While it's not the greatest cover ever made in the world (and, dear god, stop using unnecessary Filters) , it could easily be found on a shelf in Barnes & Noble without wondering, "holy crap, what self-published local leveraged their address to get on one bookseller's shelves?" I'm not saying that Penguin's going to knock on Jake's door any day soon with a design job, but there's legions of freelance book cover designers that are producing crap, so Jake's really not that far off from turning his work-avoiding hobby into a real job.

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Blogger Jake Kilroy said...

I'm framing this.

7:49 PM  
Blogger Azrael Brown said...

Wow, I'm honored! Wait. . . I hope you don't mean 'framing' as in the style 1940s noir genre films, where my dame is kidnapped shortly before our wedding and I must track the wrongdoers through the seedy underbelly of Milwaukee to get her back before the cops catch up with me and wrongly arrest me for her murder, right? I wouldn't feel honored if that's the kind of framing you mean.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Jake Kilroy said...

Yeah, it's gonna be just like "Out of the Past."

No, really though, you hit everything on the nose. I don't know anything about Photoshop, each fake book cover takes me only a few minutes, I use so many filters because I have a lack of knowledge and patience, and I really did include the quirky handwritten script at the top to attract hipsters.

Actually, I write a blog for Entrepreneur magazine and the is a project about driving traffic to your website.

How did you find that Daily Titan column anyway, out of curiosity?

1:06 PM  
Blogger Azrael Brown said...

The Daily Titan article showed up in either a Google Blog Search for book-related topics that I have saved in Google Reader, or via the 'literature' section at; either way, it was the magic of RSS. I blog at a handful of websites and am in constant need of places to link to, and the book-related stuff gets funnelled here. You lucked out by being interesting, as opposed to further news that the book industry is alternatingly "dead" or "growing", depending on your news source.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Jake Kilroy said...

Legit. The written word industry is suffering, but from what degree, not sure. I just know that the print journalism industry is going down in some harrowing flames.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Azrael Brown said...

...and you picked a magazine as a place to work? It's a good thing you have "quirky website designer" to fall back on as a career :)

4:24 PM  
Blogger Jake Kilroy said...

Writing's the only thing I've ever loved, internship turned into a job and apparently, nobody will let me be an action hero.

Just have to sit through rounds and rounds of layoffs. We can't even keep the designers who actually understand and utilize Photoshop here.

4:51 PM  

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