Under God, Over the People cover artwork (2022)
My working relationship with the Christian publishing house Broken Wharfe nearly got off on the wrong foot, as my mobile rang one morning while I was at my day job, and I answered the unknown number in wary tones half-expecting it to be a scammer. Thankfully I didn't come across too hostile, and it soon turned out that the caller was a friend of a friend, who worked for a nascent publishing company, had seen some of my previous work, and wanted to give me actual real-world cash money to design a book cover for them. This was during the summer of 2021, just over a year into the Covid lockdowns, and the book in question - titled Under God, Over the People - examined questions of how Christians should draw on Biblical teaching in their response to lockdown restrictions.
Before work started on the book itself, we had some preliminary discussions about an overall design language for Broken Wharfe projects. The publishers' aim is to produce work expressing the authority and the intrinsic value of Biblical teaching, and they wanted to develop a signature look for their output which would reflect this aim; these values happened to dovetail with my own interest in numismatics (a coin, after all, is all about authority and value), so I proposed a recurring design motif where each book would have a coin-like design as the core of its artwork; the clients quickly took to this idea.
Once the broader questions of house style had been settled, we moved on to the project at hand, which involved several elements. The defining thought had to do with the interaction of the spheres of church and state, and this was interpreted visually through the smaller circular elements containing licensed archival woodcut images of a church building and the Houses of Parliament. These two pieces were combined with an old map of London which the publishers had been given permission to use, and some typography and other vector-graphic elements which I created from scratch.
The background texture of white marble was sourced from the public domain, chosen because of marble's association with expensive and authoritative buildings such as law courts and palaces. The vector work is very subtly transparent in places, allowing hints of the marble background to show through.
Perhaps my favourite detail, far too small to be seen in the finished hardback printing but identifiable if you zoom in on the digital master file, is that the publisher's namesake wharf is actually marked on the map, on the far left of the completed composite image.
It seems the company were happy with my work on this book, as they have since asked me to design further covers for them, including Planted by Providence.
© Matthew G. H. Colclough 1988-2024 - all rights reserved
Background image from stock library