Freelance Book Designer

The Beetle Shack

Emily over at the Beetle Shack writes a charming blog about her family and her life. I found her blog late one night while feeding my newborn, bored out of my wits and squinting into my iPhone desperate for company.

For me it was refreshing to see someone show how human they were online, at a time when everything is edited and the really hard, crappy days are glossed over*. Em talks about her life warts and all packaged in appealing looking blog with lovely photographs to accompany the chaos.

*Let me just say, I edit a lot on my blog as it’s not a confessional, all encompassing blog. It’s more of a snapshot of this and that.

So last year when Em announced she wanted to collaborate with artists I put my hand up. We spoke about creating a blog header for the Beetle Shack, I played around with a few things, then life got busy and I had to put this project on hold.

When I did return I started thinking about 1950s-60s movie posters by Saul Bass, flat colours that showed disjointed cut out shapes combined to create tension, excitement and intrigue. I wanted to show the controlled chaos that Em often talks about with her life and cheeky children, so I came up with this:

But when it was finished I felt it was to harsh and a little threatening for Em’s blog. So I scraped it and once again life got in the way.

When I finally did return to this project I stopped staring at the computer screen and started sketching concepts. Doodling, thumbnails, random objects and anything that came to mind when I thought of the blog.

My design students will be happy to know that I employ the same process as I drill into them: concept on paper first! Work it through, your first idea is never your best, let the design evolve.

So I drew on paper, then started working on my iPad. Using the ‘Paper’ app, which is incredibly useful for client meetings and sketching things up quickly, I added colour loosely to my concepts.

But when it came time to take it to the computer I choked. Nothing looked right. So I sat on it for a while until I was in a creative frenzy brought on by a new book brief, where I am illustrating the cover – I finally got the creative kick up the butt and finished the concepts on screen.

The concept behind it was to illustrate some of the fruity elements that are essential parts of The Beetle Shack. From Em’s passion for producing her own food (leafy greens, chicken eggs and a wood fire pizza oven), to the craft she and her imaginative children produce, along with pom-poms, a little bit of winter weather and a surf board for Dave to have a sneaky surf on in the winter swell. Energy, light, chaos, love and happiness.

I am immensely pleased with the final banner and from the exclamation marks, I think Em is too and she has made the banner her Miss July as part of her yearly Artist Series.

************** GIVEAWAY *************

To celebrate being part of the Artist Series over at the Beetle Shack I am running a little giveaway care of my wonderful publisher at Random House Australia, I have a fabulous prize pack containing a combination of young readers and young adult books that I have designed for Random House, so not only are you getting some cracking reads, you’re also getting awesome design :p

The prize pack contains:

1. Burn Bright
Blood Song
3. The Iron Witch
4. Star League: Lights, Camera, Action Hero – Book 1 * Winner of 2012 Australian Publishers Association Book Design Awards Best Design Children’s Series * Cover Designed by Nahum Ziersch, Internal design and typesetting by me.
5. Caesar the War Dog

To enter simply head over to my FACEBOOK page and LIKE it, then come back here and leave a comment letting me know you’ve liked it. The winning entry will be drawn at random (by on July 13 2013, the winning entry will be notified by email, so make sure you include it in your comment.

The giveaway is open to Australian residents only (sorry I can’t take out a second mortgage to posts a bunch of books internationally).


And the winner is:

 Congratulations Naomi of Look See! You’re book bonanza will be winging its way to you this week. HUZZAH!