Philippe Guitton is a talented art director working for multiple publishing houses in France.
Here, he shares his experience of designing the cover of ‘La Partition Intérieure’ by Réginald Gaillard…
As with all new book covers that I have to create, I’ll take the time to chat with the editor – the guy that’s read the manuscript, corrected it and who is in touch with the author. It’s from him that I receive my briefing.
It’s my job to ask the right questions and propose some possible artistic directions.
I had established a template for this series in 2015 for Rocher, so for this novel I only needed to find the right image. My first priority was the atmosphere, then the location of the shoot, and finally the characters.
I was looking for an atmosphere that would amaze, surprise and instil wonder in the reader. The shelves in bookstores are packed, so we only get few seconds from the customer to be noticed!
Usually, I’ll undertake an initial picture search myself. This is the inspiring part of my job, because although I’ll see a lot of imagery that’s not relevant to my current project, I can keep lots of them aside to hopefully use another occasion. I’ll search across many websites. Then, to help refine my research, I’ll get in touch with the picture researchers.
This is when I send an email to the Arcangel’s team. The researchers there send me a selection of images matching my detailed brief. I choose my favourite examples, and if necessary they can then provide me with a further selection.
I select the best and the most interesting results so that a wide range of ideas can be presented to the author from the editor. For the cover of “La partition intérieure” by Réginald Gaillard, the briefing given to Arcangel was as follows:
“I would like the atmosphere of a French village, ideally matching the region of Franche Comté. This image must represent a sublime French countryside. It needs strong contrasts like Charlotte Grimm’s style; a strong and particular light, suggesting the light that the characters from the books are looking for… Autumn would be a nice season for the story but a bright autumn! The key word would be ‘authentic’.
The next stage was to go through a similar process with the novel’s characters. We had been looking for the main character but along the way we found an image that matched a supporting character, Charlotte. As you can see, she’s now on the cover!