Sue Campbell, a Colorado resident, is an experienced art director and book designer of many years; she is also the principal designer for Stephens Press titles. In this interview with Working Titlez, she shares her knowledge on what makes an effective cover design, how the process works, and what inspires her creative efforts.
How important is color in book cover design?
Color is always important in design. Color is hard-wired in our brains. It means things to us on a basic human level, but it also has cultural meaning so we must be careful with how we use it with respect to cultural connotations. Certain colors evoke emotional responses—it reminds us of events or experiences. And it also acts as a language, one that we learn and with it make associations. For example: we know that darker colors mean mystery and fearful happenings—tension. It makes sense then for thrillers to often appear cloaked in dark and mysterious images in dark colors that evokes a bit of unease.
Should color trends be followed?
By trends, if you mean what is fashionable or popular in a given year. No. I don’t think so. I don’t personally follow color trends because color is so significant. Particularly in book cover design. Because colors are rich in meaning—the decisions to use them need to be made in consideration with the subject matter, genre, target audience, and the feeling you want people to get when they see the cover. People may be surprised that we don’t just pick blue or red or green because that’s the author’s (or our) favorite color. Of course, sometimes you have to do that too. That’s an ill-considered way of making those kinds of design decisions though.