Toby Hopkins of Getty Images talks to Glenn O’Neill, Deputy Art Director of Cornerstone publishing, a division within Penguin Random House, about his design for this summer’s blockbuster “Go Set a Watchman”.
1. There has been a lot of talk about this book – and quite a lot of talk about its cover too. How did you come to be involved in the design?
The whole briefing and design process for the jacket was unusual. Given the high profile of the book, and its importance to our list, it was decided that all six designers in the department would have the opportunity to submit proposals. It was a very open brief. For reasons of security, access to the text was extremely restricted. None of us would be able to read it until publication day. But we were made aware by the publisher of the essential outline of the story, that covers Scout Finch’s return home to Maycomb from New York, and would feature many of the same characters of To Kill A Mockingbird, though now older, and Go Set A Watchman’s historic context, in that the manuscript had been recently rediscovered after so many years. We all wanted one of our designs to be chosen. It was like going back to university – there would be a range of designers’ responses to this instantly classic book.
2. You arrived at a unique typographical solution for your cover design. The lettering of “Go Set a Watchman” is shadowed by similar sized letters of Harper Lee’s previous title “To Kill a Mockingbird.” How did that come about?
In the initial focus meeting, whilst in discussion regarding the company’s plans for the book involving all of editorial, sales, marketing and publicity, I was doodling on a pad. I noticed the similarities in the wording of the two titles, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Go Set A Watchman: the four words, each of a similar length, and of a similar rhythm. One title could be a reflection of the other, both historically and typographically. This lettering featured in the first design produced, and stayed the same through every version: similar sized letters sitting in bars across the page to give structure. The autumnal textured orange background was also an early decision.