Under The Covers - Designing Gerard Woodward's Legoland

31 March 2016

Picador designer, Justine Anweiler, explains how the beautiful and unusual cover design for Gerard Woodward’s short story collection Legoland came about. 

When Legoland was first briefed, I distinctly remember the words 'surreal' and 'conceptual' and immediately I was hooked. Not only did Legoland have a great title, but it also had potential to be visualised in a variety of different ways.

Right off the bat I started researching imagery that felt like the short stories that I had read. After browsing Pinterest for far too long, it became clear that there were five different ways of approaching the cover. By categorizing my collection of images, I was able to create mood-boards that simplified the roots worth exploring. The following are my five approaches and mood-board pics that explain each idea.*

*Please note that we do not claim to have created the imagery used in the moodboards and Macmillan does not own the copyright to the images. Copyright belongs to each individual artist and if you’d like to know more about any particular piece, feel free to drop us a line and we’ll happily pass on the details.

1. Playing Up What Legoland Could Be (Inception, Surrealism)

2. Depicting the title: lego, geometric, shapes, things fitting together

3. Typographic and title led: Graphic, 80s cool, trending

4. Surrealist imagery: quirky and conceptual to fit the short stories

5. Brain scramble: change of perspective and optical illusions

After bringing them along to our weekly cover meeting, it was clear that 'Playing Up What Legoland Could Be' – creating a land of Lego – was the clear winner!

To expand on the idea I decided to approach the artist who had previously created The Muse poster, and managed to trace his work back to Behance. Axel’s portfolio demonstrated obvious capability and a style that lent itself to book covers in a unique and refreshing way. I immediately responded to his approach and Inception-esque style of illustration and asked him if he’d be interested in the project. After a couple of emails back and forth he was on board to do both the cover and the endpapers. The original sketch I created for the brief looked like so:

Justine's initial sketch (left) and Axel Bizon's developed pencil sketch (right). 

With minor tweaks to be made, I knew we were close and we got the perfect artist for the job.

Before long, Axel and I had collaboratively ended up with our full cover jacket. Once everyone fell in love with where we got to on the cover, Axel was given free reign to create endpapers however he wanted. Without hesitation he brought in his collaborator Léna Sarrault and together they designed the endpapers.

Since the production of the book, Axel Bizon and Léna Sarrault have created a studio called Fago Studio that consists of them and another designer/illustrator. You can find Legoland beautifully documented on their website

They were a complete joy to work with and brought incredible talent to the table. We have been overwhelmed by all the positive responses. Legoland was even featured on the popular book cover blog The Casual Optimist in their Book Covers of Note Febraury 2016.

I am over the moon with how it turned out and my hope is that the cover is as good as Gerard’s clever, perspective exploring stories.

Feel free to tweet us your thoughts at @panmacartdept.

Legoland

Legoland

A stunning new collection of stories from the Man Booker Prize and Whitbread Prize shortlisted author.

Many of Legoland's stories begin with the seemingly every day, only for a turn of events to land them in an unsettling place where life's normal rules no longer apply. Whether he's writing about a child’s birthday party or the invasion of an unnamed country each story is full of Woodward's blacker-than-black humour, fearless surrealism, and poetic phrasing. Included here is his brilliant story 'The Family Whistle', shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award.

Legoland celebrates Woodward's trademark gift for wit and surprise: his lithe prose carrying us from comedy to tragedy and back again within a single tale. It confirms him as one of the most gifted and original writers of our time.

Out now in Paperback and as an Ebook.

Read extract  

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