Design For Meaning: Creating Effective and Artistic Book Cover Designs

Peter Mendelsund, Associate Art Director at Alfred A. Knopf

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9 Videos (1h 2m)
    • Introduction

    • Identifying the Goals

    • Reading as a Designer

    • Turning Narrative into Design

    • Sketching Ideas

    • Considering Audience, Medium, and Examples

    • Designing the Cover

    • Troubleshooting: Ideas and Alternatives

    • Conclusion


About This Class

It's not just what design looks like, but what it says. In this 66-minute class, acclaimed cover designer Peter Mendelsund shares his process for creating a book jacket that conveys the author's vision, sells the book, and pushes you as an artist.

Learn how to read as a graphic designer, iterate with imagination, and break the "rules" to make your message stand out. Nine video lessons follow Peter as he designs a Skillshare-exclusive cover for Wordsworth's "I Wandered as a Cloud," and a detailed project guide helps you create a cover of your own.

This smart, inspiring class is a must-take for graphic designers, illustrators, and everyone who loves to hold a book in their hands.

340 of 340 students recommendSee All

The value in this, to my mind, is a good deal less in the hands-on examples (though they’re fun) than it is in hearing Mendelsund attempt to articulate connections between process and subjective values — and maybe, behind that, simply in listening to him think aloud. At any rate, I enjoyed the hour quite a lot.
Amazing course. Thank you a lot!
Super informative, broad and specific enough to feel like you're getting a super quick detailed insight into book design. Glorious. Thank you, Peter





Peter Mendelsund

Associate Art Director at Alfred A. Knopf

Peter Mendelsund is the associate art director of Alfred A. Knopf Books, the art director of Pantheon Books, and a recovering classical pianist. He has been called "the force behind some of today's most recognizable book covers" by The New Yorker, and his designs have been described as "the most instantly recognizable and iconic book covers in contemporary fiction" by The Wall Street Journal.

Among his most celebrated jackets are those for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; collections of the works of Joyce, Kafka, Dostoevsky, de Beauvoir, and Foucault; the contemporary works of Martin Amis, Tom McCarthy, Ben Marcus, Jo Nesbø, and James Gleick; and many more.

He is the author of Cover, an art book featuring jackets from throughour this career as well as reflections on the design process, and the best-selling What We See When We Read, a fully illustrated exploration into how we visualize when reading literature.

Peter's writing on literature, design, and other matters can be found on his blog: