Type as Illustration

Sometimes, through the use of good design, the tpypography of a cover can serve a double role – it becomes illustrative. Here are some examples:

Small Crimes in an Age of Abundance

by Matthew Kneale. Published by Anchor Canada, 2006. Designed by David Drummond.

This simple and humourous idea perfectly illustrates the act of a ‘small crime’, with the ‘l’ of the word ‘small’ missing.

Can I have a Word With You?

by Howard Richler. Published by Ronsdale Press, 2007. Designed by David Drummond.

Here Drummond has used the definition of ‘word’ in place of the actual word itself, assuming the reader’s knowledge of the phrase that forms the title, and asking them to mentally fill in for the missing word.

Running the Books

by Avi Steinberg. Published by Nan A. Talese, 2010.

This is an inventive use of library-style date stamps to create an illustration. The design makes me think that every time the author issued a book and used a date stamp, he got a little piece of his identity back.

My Beautiful Genome

by Lone Frank. Published by Oneworld Publications, 2011.

The characters here are themselves built with smaller characters, spelling out the acronym ‘GATTACA’, which stands for the Guanine, Adenine, Thymine, Thymine, Adenine, Cytosine, and Adenine, a commonly occurring gene sequence in human DNA.

The Last Days of Publishing

by Tom Engelhardt. Published by University of Massachusetts Press, 2003. Designed by Louise Fili.

Here the designer uses typography not only to illustrate the cover, but also to give an insight into the subject of the book. She makes the reader do a little work to decipher the title, by interpreting the proof correction marks.

Capture the Flag

by Arnaldo Testi. Published by New York University Press, 2010. Designed by David Drummond.

Designer David Drummond uses a simple design, allowing the reader’s familiarity with the American flag to fill in the visual blanks. I found that the author’s unusual surname and the large amount of white space used after this name makes the cover look somewhat unfinished.

Oil: Anatomy of Industry

by Matthew Yeomans. Published by The New Press, 2004. Designed by Pollen.

This is a very simple cover that omits the author’s name and all other information. The hand-lettered typeface illustrates the subject matter perfectly. Interestingly, the publishers where not quite so bold with the design for the earlier, hardback edition:

Just My Type

by Simon Garfield. Published by Profile Books, 2010. Designed by James Alexander.

Here the type itself is the focus of the book and the cover. Interesting typefaces have been chosen to illustrate the beauty and variety of the type.

  1. Samantha Rayner says:

    Yes, these definitely work — several here I will now want to buy and read!

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