I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally reveal the cover of Taken! I’ve been staring at this beauty for many months (six!) and I still get hit with a wave of giddy happiness every time I look at it. It is striking and unique and I love it to pieces! The team at Harper did such a fantastic job.
But enough rambling on my part. Let’s get to the goods…
And here’s the official jacket copy:
There are no men in Claysoot.
There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends . . . and he’s gone.
They call it the Heist.
Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate—until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot—a structure that no one can cross and survive. Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken—or risk everything on the hope of the other side?
I’m in love with everything about this cover!!! The tree! The lifted K! The reflection and the colors and the way Gray is looking over his shoulder! *sighs contently*
As a designer in my past life, I was super interested in learning more about the creative process for Taken‘s artwork. I asked the folks at Harper if they could put me in touch with the cover designer for a little Q&A session, and they graciously agreed!
So today, in addition to sharing the cover, I have an interview with the talented Erin Fitzsimmons, Senior Designer at HarperTeen! Erin has worked on some truly stunning covers (like Kat’s!) and was kind enough to chat with me about how the cover of Taken came to life!
An interview with TAKEN’s cover designer, Erin Fitzsimmons:
Not that I’m biased or anything, but Taken has such a unique and striking cover. 😉 How did you come up with the overall concept?
The first concepts that I explored focused on the imagery of the Heist. I loved how mysterious it was, and I really wanted it to be indicated on the cover in some way. Around the same time I also happened to stumble upon some incredibly interesting perspective photography that seemed to fit the story very nicely. So in the beginning, I was mostly focused on light and perspective and how changing the angle of the frame can make you think differently. This search led me to the stunning work of Alisdair Miller, who created the final Taken cover artwork.
The alternating perspective is one of my favorite aspects of the cover! So what happens after that initial concept is in place? Can you tell us about the general design process at Harper?
I work closely with my Art Director, Alison Donalty. As soon I have initial concepts for a cover, I bring them to her first. Very often, she will also come up with concepts that I will then explore with imagery and typography. When we have some ideas that we like, we bring them into a meeting with the editorial team and the Creative Director. They look at all the options, offer feedback, and we finesse to a point that we feel we are ready to share with the Sales and Marketing teams. Usually we will present to them a number of options, and, in the case of series like Taken, we will present concepts for two or three books in the series, so we can develop the covers simultaneously from the start.
I imagine the approval process can get intense with so many people weighing in on the concepts. Were there any particular challenges when it came to designing Taken‘s cover?
For my initial concepts I really wanted to include imagery of the Heist, but beaming light from the sky tended too look too sci-fi (I heard the term: “alien abduction” quite a bit!). After playing with the typography for the title, I realized I could include the idea of the Heist without actually showing it, and everyone loved it and got it right away. That was my happy little victory.
We also presented the original concepts for Taken very early in the process, which can either be a relief or a stress. In the case of Taken, we received great feedback and we were able to develop the concept for book one as well as the whole series into a much stronger design. After that initial meeting, we found Alisdair, set up the photo shoot, and everything fell into place very nicely!
I adore that rising K in the title. Hooray for happy victories! Typography aside, let’s talk about the cover models. How much input did you have in that photo shoot? Can you tell us a little bit about how the models were cast and shot in order to integrate well with the design?
My Art Director held a casting with the photographer, Howard Huang, and met close to 100 models, male and female, who auditioned for the role. Since we had the concept for the cover, we even had them walk and pose like they would for the photo shoot, to ensure they would have the intensity and poise we needed. The models we chose were perfect, and were a dream to work with on set. The neatest part of the photo shoot was that Howard actually shot them on a mirrored surface, so the reflections are in the shot. No Photoshopped reflections here!
Mirrored surface?! So cool! And lastly, can you discuss how designing series covers differs from designing stand-alone covers? Was it difficult to imagine how Taken‘s concept could be extended for two more books?
It definitely affects the process. When designing for a series you not only have to envision a way to express the same concept differently, but you also must develop the concept further. Readers don’t want to see the same image on three covers in three different colors. They want progression.
Taken was a great experience of designing for a series in that we had plenty of time in the beginning to develop ideas for books two and three, and work those back into book one and into the photo shoot. I can’t wait to share book two with you…next year! 😉
Isn’t she so cruel, teasing us like that!? Cruel, but talented. I can’t wait to see the future covers!
A huge thank you to Erin for giving us a behind-the-scenes peek at the design process. And to sum things up and give credit where credit is due, a handy list of the talented folks that made Taken‘s cover possible:
- Alisdair Miller, incredible perspective photographer who’s gorgeous cityscapes grace the cover
- Howard Huang, fabulous Brooklyn photographer who shot the models walking across the edifice
- Alison Donalty and Erin Fitzsimmons, Art Director and Senior Designer, respectively, who developed the overall concept and brought it all to life from the Harper offices
I’ve yapped a lot. What do you think of the cover? Let me know in the comments! And once you’ve done that, maybe you’d like to add Taken to your Goodreads shelf or help me spread the word about the cover reveal by tweeting/Facebooking/Tumbling this blog post. Either way, thank you. You rock.