As the design and production of our anthology Kindling continues full steam ahead, we began our search for a very special designer to create our book cover. This was by no means, a simple task. We needed someone who would really understand what our book was all about, and who also had the talent and technique to pull it off. That person turned out to be Alissa Dinallo.
Alissa is a designer and illustrator based in Sydney, working as a book cover designer at Allen & Unwin. She studied Visual Communications at UTS, and graduated in 2012.
Along with design and illustration, Alissa has a ridiculous obsession with books and typography. From individual letterforms, hand drawn type and typefaces to typesetting entire books, she is constantly engaged with anything to do with letters. When she’s not designing covers, Alissa is making books. She has written, typeset, illustrated and designed three of her own books to date, as well as typeset and designed for those who self publish.
Three Questions with Alissa
1. Tell us why you wanted to work on the cover of the Kindling anthology?
Working for emerging writers is a nice change of pace to working in trade publishing. Even though I love the fast-paced nature and commercial aspects of my job, it’s nice to sit back and get a little more artistic, as well as at the same time, support talented writers who are making a name for themselves.
2. What are some of the key factors you consider when designing a book cover?
There are many factors that come into designing a book cover. I guess what could be considered the most important factor is audience – who do you want to pick up your book? What other books are out there that this audience group are reading? How is your cover going to sit amongst all the books that already exist? Secondly, a book cover is essential a unity of word and image. What words are going on the book (what’s the title, subtitle, shout line, quotes etc.) and what images are going to complement this. A book cover designer’s job is to combine all of these elements to create a clear, swift message to the readers, that will hopefully intrigue them enough to pick the book up (or click on the cover thumbnail).
3. Tell us what your experiences have been like as a book cover designer in the industry so far? What’s it like working with authors and publishers?
As a designer, working in the publishing industry is great. It’s quite different (I imagine) to working in a design studio. You work as a part of a larger team of individuals – all of who have their own distinct role and are working towards creating the one end product (a book). I work the closest with editors, who work incredibly hard to turn a manuscript into an actual book. They often have great visions for a cover and there are many times that they will come up with a great concept for me to work with. I very rarely have direct contact with authors, which is disappointing at times. The hardest aspect of my job is working with Sales and Marketing. This is purely because this is when the ‘creativity’ and ‘artistic’ aspects of being a book designer are usually reigned in. This is definitely where you learn to put your own ego/design-self aside and do what’s best for the book i.e what is going to sell the most copies. Even if it means making the type red when it really does look better blue. At the end of the day, this is what makes my job such a great challenge – trying to find that harmony between my own creativity and the commercial world.