To celebrate the fact that my chapbook has almost completely sold out and I need another batch printed for my next poetry feature, I decided to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the artwork for Between Streetlights and Stars.
Putting together a chapbook requires two long and arduous tasks: 1) Writing and editing a strong collection of poems and 2) Figuring out what you want for the cover art. When I look at a lot of poetry chapbooks, the artwork tends feature simple drawings or generic images of the countryside or a tree. I’m not saying that to put anyone down: if you don’t have a publisher who can hire a team of graphic designers, all the decision making rests on your shoulders. After so much writing and editing, the weight of that is more than what most writers can bear. The poets who care very little for the cover art are the lucky ones. The rest of us who want something striking or interesting that ties in with the themes of the book? We’ve got an uphill battle.
For Between Streetlights And Stars, I wanted something more colorful and romantic. I started with the idea of using a silhouette of a woman’s profile, like the front cover of The Reminder by Feist. From there I thought it would be cool to have a collage be photoshopped inside of the silhouette only to later realize the creating/finding of a collage would be a process itself. One day while listening to one of my Pandora stations, a song by Doves came on from their album Lost Sides.
The blurry city lights inside the face was compelling and I wanted to do something like that but with a lot more color. I searched through royalty free photo sites trying but most of what they had to offer was far too polished and commercial looking. I wanted a photo that looked like a friend of mine had taken it, not like something out of a corporate brochure. After a few more searches I found this wonderful photo by Ng Ian T’ang I found on Deviant Art. Ian was kind enough to grant me his permission to use it as part of my artwork. I changed my mind about using a silhouette and opted for a woman’s profile instead. After a few minutes of photoshop work with a friend of mine, I had my front cover all ready to go.
Despite my limited resources, I think it came out pretty good. To this day, I am proud of both the poems in the book and its packaging. Many thanks to Ian for granting me permission to use his photo. Please visit his Deviant Art profile and check out his photography. Also thanks to Will Cote for his photoshop skills.
I’m looking forward to my first feature in Cambridge at Stone Soup on November 4th. I hope to see you there.