Deborah Jiang Stein's memoir, Even Tough Girls Wear Tutus, has a cover that grabs you with a tattoo-tutu contrast. Inside, you'll find the author's story of redemption and hope after being born to a heroin-addicted mother in prison. Creating a cover that captured the right feel was incredibly important, and personal, for Deborah. Here she is to talk about the design:
"Heading into the excitement about this book, I knew we needed a cover with contrast, and an image to reflect the concept of opposites. It’s the nature of my story. What better than a frilly tutu with a woman tattooed on her back?
"That photo is not me, by the way.
"I have a background in marketing so I knew not to get my author ego involved and let the designers do their work.
"The second I set my eyes on the cover, I knew it was right. We reviewed several options, and I loved this one from the start. The original concept and design came from Betsy Gabler, a designer with a long time history previously as sales manager in publishing (we’re talking 30 years!) and with her design background to match, it all worked out. I think the best covers come when author, editorial, and marketing all have some input with design somewhere on the way.
"One change right off was to match the skin tone. This model’s skin tone was lighter than mine and since my book includes themes about some of the challenges of being multiracial, we needed the skin color to matter in the photo. The cover went through numerous cycles before the final. Chris Fayers, another designer, had his hands in the cover, as well.
"My story is one of resolving secrecy, shame, and stigma. I’ve needed to accept my birth in prison and all that came with my early childhood and what followed me into my adulthood.
"The cover design mirrors what I’ve learned about my life, what I share in my story— to refrain from judgment, of ourselves and others, and find ways to embrace our pasts and move on.
"Nothing hides in this cover other than some people don’t identify the tutu at first, or what the image actually represents. Like an inkblot of the Rorschach test, this cover gives a different message to different people.
"I like how it calls people to pause and figure out what it is. Others, however, see it exactly as it is—a woman with a tattoo wearing a tutu. If you look closely in the lower left corner, you get a peek at her fishnet tights. This took me a while to see. Like life, some things take a while to notice."
Thanks, Deborah. For me, that's exactly the thing about this cover -- it calls me over to investigate, to look deeper.
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