Jacket for Siri Hustvedt’s “The Summer Without Men”.

It is always a pleasure to design the packaging for Siri Hustvedt‘s books. Not only does it give me an opportunity to read her work early, but Siri is also very open minded about visuals and concepts.

I have now made covers for all the 7 books Siri has released with her Danish publisher, Per Kofod:

Her latest novel, “The Summer Without Men” (Danish: Sommeren uden m├Žnd), follows Mia Fredricksen, who leaves her New York life (and wandering husband) to spend the summer in her small Minnesota home town with her mother’s friends, a neighbor Lola, and a group of young girls in her creative writing class.

My first idea for the cover was to create a picture of one of the characters in the book, Lola’s toddler daughter, that we first meet wearing a Harpo Marx wig and holding a stuffed animal giraffe. But I decided it would be wrong to pick a single person from the large cast, and it would also give the impression that the book is mainly about motherhood.

Instead I found an “In-Camera Montage” I did a couple of years ago:

This piece is from a series I did of trees. On the day I made it I had brunch at Bowery Bar. This restaurant has a wonderful garden, and the night before there had been an outdoor movie show. A white sheet was suspended between the trees, and the strong midday sun made beautiful shadows on it. The foliage created ever changing patterns and from time to time a fly would land to add some extra animation. Pretty soon I forgot all about my meal and were composing floral patterns in my camera. In-camera Montage is a technique I have developed, and it is done by making partially overlapping exposures on the negative. No digital manipulation is involved – just an old Leicaflex and a roll of Tri-X.

I like this image because it gives the feeling of summer without showing actual trees or leaves. It is a projection of summer; a movie – the closest relative to the novel. The fly might seem like a foreign element, but it is really very appropriate. Not only is it a great focal point, but in the novel’s harmonious environment of women, the unsolved problem of Mia’s domestic situation is always present. Her missing husband is really the fly in the ointment. And there he is, center stage left – not really there, but always present.

Whether the reader (or writer) sees it like that, I don’t know, but that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

For design nerds, the typeface is Snell Roundhand, drawn by Matthew Carter who recently released the much celebrated font Carter Sans.

I find Snell to be a very nice, simple and legible script without any unnecessary decorations. The script typeface works well with the semi abstract image, and it also ties the cover to the previous novel I did for Siri. The typeface on “The Sorrows of an American” is Dalliance (designed by Frank Heine), a slightly more decorative but still legible font.

The publisher was very happy, Siri found the cover lovely and liked the fly.

The book will be out this spring. Read it!


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