Isabelle’s design was chosen from submissions to our annual cover design project with third year students on the Illustration degree course at the University of the West of England here in Bristol. Many thanks to Chris Hill, Jonathan Ward and the students for making the project such an enjoyable and thought-provoking experience.
We took the opportunity to chat to Isabelle about her cover and the major influences on her work.
Congratulations on creating such a striking cover. What did you think when you found out your design had been chosen for this year’s Bristol Short Story Prize anthology?
I was very pleased. I had a look around at my friends who had entered and saw what tough competition there was, but I’m glad my perspective was chosen for the book cover and I’m glad that my vision for a good book cover fits the Bristol Short Story Prize anthology well.
What impact has the Illustration degree course had on your work?
It has made a massive impact on my work. The tutors were very helpful and informative. I wasn’t very sure at the start of my university life, but now I have grown and I know the direction in which I want to take my career
What makes a strong book cover?
A strong book cover is something that has the right elements to capture you, even without knowing what the book is about, making you wonder about the stories inside. Artistically speaking, colours that fit the tone and style of the book are most important, as well as composition, If a person or object is shown only partially, does it give a sense of mystery? Or if there are different elements with movement around the cover, back, and spine, does that make it feel action-packed? Those are all things to consider when making a book cover, but the most important thing is the message and the underlying narrative that the story is about showing through on the front of the book.
The brief for the anthology cover is quite wide and non-specific. Was that a help or a hindrance in coming up with a design?
I believe it was a help. There was such a wide range of things to choose from to help, from lights to cubes to even shapes of leaves and stones. The possibilities were endless, and the only hindrance was trying to narrow down all the ideas that I came up with to get the best idea on the canvas. Even when you are told that something needs to be wide-range and have no strong leanings toward objects, people, or places, there are still endless patterns and colours as well as emotions to choose from. Finding the best combination was hard, but only because so many felt brilliant and powerful enough to be part of the design.
What did you want your design to convey to readers?
I wanted to design something that was light and bright, making happy and elevating emotions in the reader. To give them the same joy that I felt when making the cover, the warm red and bright yellows were chosen to invoke the idea of a sunny day, reading in the park or at a bus stop in the midst of summer; a happy warm atmosphere that readers can relate to when opening the book either for the first time or the many times after that.
Which illustrators and artists have had the biggest influence on your work?
I mainly study digital artists, but I love traditional artists such as Norman Rockwell. Reading about his life and artworks always brings me delight so I want to paint the same artworks he did. Furthermore, I take inspiration from online digital artists such as Kim-Seang Hong nicknamed “Nesskain” an Art Director living in Irvine, Los Angeles as well as Alena Aenami, a Ukrainian digital artist who I found before my first year in university. All of these people have served as inspiration for my works, but in terms of artworks that inspire me I have to say the Art of the Spider-verse films from the Sony Pictures Animation team as well as Fortiche Studios’ Arcane TV Series. Both are animated projects that tell a beauty in their art direction alone. With all this inspiration I wish to be as good as these artists and make projects as good in the future.
Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 16 will be officially launched at our 2023 Awards Ceremony on October 14th. It is available to pre-order via Tangent Books: https://www.tangentbooks.co.uk/shop/pre-orderr-bssp-16