Join Jessica Hische for an in-depth discussion in this video Jessica's book design projects, part of The Creative Spark: Title Case, Typographic Artisans.
Jessica Hirsche: A lot of the work that I end up doing is for advertising and for book covers, and this is some of the book covers that I worked on. So, I did a classic book series with Barnes & Noble. So, here are some of the books. One of my favorites is Dracula. Huckleberry Finn might me my top though. I think that all the books are really fun because they are all leather bound and then have two color foils. So, not all of them use metallic foils, but some of my favorites do. And I can show you how some of the sketches worked. So, I knew that these were going to be type-driven covers or lettering-driven covers, so we almost always started with the lettering first and then the ornamentation second.
Here is one of the earlier Crime and Punishments here, and the ornamentation is really a lot looser. It is not quite as defined as what the final ended up being. And it's just because I know that it's easier for me to experiment on the ornamentation when we hit digital versus doing it when it is in a sketch form. The relationship between the lettering and the ornament is really important to me as a letterer. I think that is different than as a designer would approach it, because designers are generally curating these different elements to mix them together. And while I was a designer of these covers, knowing that I was creating all of the elements that would then go on to the covers made me want to create them in a way that everything was meant for each other.
So, when I drew the lettering, I knew that the ornament had to match the lettering perfectly because I was the one creating it. So, for things like Tom Sawyer, the lettering itself was a bit more bold. It was more shape-driven versus more line-driven, so the ornamentation became more shape-driven instead of line-driven. But stuff like Little Women, because there was so much kind of decorative line ornamentation within the lettering itself, more of the decoration leaned towards line work. But, in general, I think that really helps unite the series together, the fact that they all have borders, the fact that they all use the same typeface. And the spines are treated similarly, but with a lot of varying decoration between them.
So, as you can see, the titles all use the same typeface, the author names the same typeface, and then the ornamentation happens in the same places. So, I think that when you see them on the shelves, that's why they end up looking so well put together is that we made these decisions early on to keep this throughout the series. I think that is something that is unique to illustrators and letterers because we are the ones that are creating our world. We are not pulling from the elements that we can find. We are creating everything, so we want everything to match and be perfect.
If you have the opportunity to make everything fit perfectly together, why wouldn't you take it? Then McSweeney's is another example where the ornamentation and the type ties in so directly, and that's just because it's seamless between the two. So, the actual, the 38 as ornamental, as it is, it actually is still a 38, and the McSweeney's lettering just ties perfectly in with the rest of the ornamentation. So it was designed as one holistic piece versus designed as lettering plus ornament and then married. So, it's just one unit.
And then the spine type is the same way. So I couldn't just take the type from the cover and use it on the spine; it had to be adapted a little bit so that it worked. So the 38 changed quite a bit, even though it's in the same style.