In an era where color-coded bookshelves inspire infinite Pinterest pins, think pieces, and the interior design of hip co-working spaces everywhere, it takes a truly eye-catching cover to prompt a reader to look beyond the binding. 

As the publishing industry responds to the consumer demand for cover designs with brighter colors, hand drawn lettering and less predictability, the bar has been set high for a new crop of talent to deliver artwork that pushes the creative envelope. The result? Gorgeous new book covers that are pushing the industry to new artistic heights.  

Whether you want to spruce up your home library or need some inspiration before you make one of your own, this round-up of bold, beautiful book designs will be sure to spark your interest. 

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If They Come For Us by Fatimah Asghar is a collection of poetry that features lush, brilliant illustrations by Brooklyn-based artist Shyama Golden. The collection of poems taps into the intersectionality of Asghar’s identity as a Southeast Asian American, an orphan, and queer person. In a fitting partnership, Golden’s work frequently explores themes of her Sri Lankan heritage and folklore. Set amongst gorgeous plant life and intricate pattern designs, the three women with intertwined arms on the cover both intrigue and invite the reader to venture inside the pages.

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The title of Brenda Shughnessy’s The Octopus Museum captures attention, but when coupled with the Kim Keever photograph on the cover, the effect is incredibly arresting. Keever’s photo, made by dropping vividly colored paint in water and capturing it through the glass of an aquarium, the resulting image is a rich, exciting explosion of color and cloud-like texture — exactly the kind of thing that would stand out on any bookshelf.

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The cover illustration of Queenie, a novel by Candice Carty-Williams published in early 2019, is stunning in its attention to detail. Each braid, baby hair, and flyaway in the silhouette of a faceless, earringed woman is an impossibly thin digital pencil stroke. The artist, Trinidadian Gerrel Saunders, strives to showcase the diverse hairstyles of black women and encourage positive dialogue centered around black hair. The result? A cover that is as dynamic and regal as the book’s name suggests.

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Mi Jian’s satirical novel China Dream features a striking image of a shattered, leafless tree by an artist better known for his sculptures, installations, and political activism: Ai Weiwei. Both men are prolific artists and are currently living in exile from their native China. The cover is described as a “haunting doorway” into the book’s premise, in which an upwardly mobile bureaucrat is plagued by his memories of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. 

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Mysterious, technicolor symbols adorn the cover art of Sarah Gailey’s Magic For Liars Created by Will Staehle, an accomplished book designer, this gorgeous cover is the perfect backdrop for the noir murder mystery story inside.

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House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma employs beautiful, blocky text with sharp edges that appear to imprison the vibrant yellow bird that sits behind it. . Because the  novel is set in post-colonial Zimbabwe, the cover designer, Sarahmay Wilkinson, chose the bird to reflect the country’s national symbol while pulling inspiration from Zimbabwean artist, Owen Maseko.

Ready to design your own gorgeous book cover? Award-winning illustrator and letterer Jessica Hische’s Skillshare Originals class, Illustrated Lettering: Design a Book Cover with Jessica Hische, will teach you everything you need to know about creating lettered book covers in Procreate.

Written by:

Rachel Fletcher