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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

Reading between the colours

Writers and publishers are roping in artists to design book covers... but there's a hitch, writes Anamika Chatterjee.

books Updated: Aug 20, 2007 19:27 IST
Anamika Chatterjee
Anamika Chatterjee
Hindustan Times

Writing a book? So who's doing the jacket - Husain Sr or will it be Tyeb Mehta? No joke this. A lot of publishers have been of late roping in artists to do their book covers.

Here's a list: the cover of MJ Akbar's Blood Brothers is a Shamshad Hussain work, Boman Desai's A Woman Madly In Love has Amrita Shergil's self portrait on it and BN Goswami's Word Is Sacred, Sacred Is The Word sports a work by multimedia artist Parthiv Shah.

The rising
But why artists, instead of designers? Says Bikash D Niyogi of Niyogi Books, "They (artists) bring a fresher perspective. But it's not always feasible to get an artist to design the cover of the book because they are busy with their shows." <b1>

One would imagine that a bigger problem would be the amount charged. But characteristically no one wants to discuss that one.

Instead, Kapish Mehra of Rupa and Co says, "An artwork is an added attraction." So what do the designers have to say? Says Atanu Roy, "For serious literature, publishers prefer to rope in artists. The illustrators generally, do not have that kind of depth. But such books are meant for niche readers only"

Under cover
But frankly would an artist be interested in doing book jackets? Multimedia artist Parthiv Shah feels book covers can be a medium through which an artist can convey a message.

"When you paint something, the idea may not be understood by many. There are many people who do not understand abstract art. At least while designing book covers an artist knows that she has to make himself/herself understood. This brings out a different aspect of an artist's work." <b2>

Others like artist Arijoy Bhattacharya would beg to differ "There are a whole lot of constraints like budget and layout. Even colours are decided according to budget. It is not liberating at all."

In brief
Speaking of curbs how are these artists briefed? This includes reading few portions of the book that form it's crux. Pramod Kapoor of Roli Books elucidates, "We tell the artist about the main idea and how to go about it. In addition, we insist that they read the first few chapters of the book for a better perspective."

First Published: Aug 20, 2007 12:15 IST

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