This is how a cover gets made.

I spent a good portion of spring/summer 2012 working on the cover and inside design for John Taylor's autobiography. As with any design project, including my own t-shirt designs, many ideas are thrown out there, some stick, some don't, but eventually the process funnels down to 'The One'. In celebration of the book's release, John and I thought it would be fun to share some of the other cover ideas we went through to get to the final version(s).

Below are the final versions for the UK/Australia edition and the North American edition. Why two different covers? Well, there are two different publishing companies, and it simply came down to different wants in the heirarchy of the type.



North America


We first started the design process back in mid-February, and in the initial 'sketching' of ideas we used this fantastic photo taken by Stephanie Pistel. It allowed me to work out the type design to an extent, however it was decided that a photo shoot was wanted to generate a new series of shots specific to the book. I really liked this particlar photo a lot, and fortunately it has been used for publicity.

Also, this photo established the color theme. From this we knew we wanted red in there to really pop, we loved how it stood out and caught your eye, and of course the striking nature of it against the black and white was perfect... and red, black and white... John Taylor... Duran Duran...well, it's more than appropriate!
In April a photo shoot was organized in Los Angeles with photographer Kristin Burns that yielded many great shots. One idea I had to get out of my system from the start was the Steve Jobs-esque "close-up"... but, you know, with bright red! And because this was so 'in your face', I wanted to run the main title semi-transparently over his face, no room for subtlety here! I remember in the back of my mind while working on this one, I knew it wasn't going to be used, but as part of the process one still needs to work through these to get to the one we do want.


There was this red chair in the studio that I was a little obsessed with and felt could be perfect for the cover. As it turned out, while it is cool, and provides that splash of red in an interesting shape, after viewing it in context, we thought this would be a great book cover if it was for a furniture designer or architect, but maybe not so much for John!

Here we are getting closer to our final concept with a few other strong photo contenders (plus the question of do we go with color or black and white with the photo?) Incidentally, the concept of the paint texture was inspired by the work of artist Egon Schiele, who John is a big fan of and wanted to bring that kind of energy to the cover, which I thought was great.

Egon Schiele
"Portrait of Eduard Kismack with Raised Left Hand"


Egon Schiele
"A Standing Man"




One must pursue all angles though... the stark white backgound with the 'pop' of color. Have you noticed, particularly of late, a lot of biography and autobiography covers use a clean black and white photo with maybe a splash of color on the type? Nothing wrong with that at all, I'm a big fan of simple, clean design, but it just didn't seem to be the right dirction to go in for John's cover...

Almost there...this photo was actually the first one I gravitated to (while going through nearly 500 shots!), and I kept going back to it. It stood out from the start to everyone, and I had a feeling it was going to be 'The One' but still needed to explore other options. However, the more I kept using this photo, in color and black and white, we knew it had everything we were looking for. Now it was just a matter of getting the type right as well as quickly realizing the black and white version was the stronger option for the cover, particularly when combined with the red background. Also, one of the last decisions was to keep the red background 'flat' as opposed to having the paint texture. We felt that with the gloss and matte finishes we were using on the final printed version, the texture was unecessary.

And finally, the team who helped make the shoot such a great, fun day and yielded a fantastic cover photo!

Leila Baboi, Patty Palazzo, Cover Boy, Roxy Saffaie, Kristin Burns, Ashley Poole

Book art © John Taylor, group photo © Kristin Burns, please do not reproduce without permission.