Case Study: Seasons’ Songs Book Covers

Vargus Pike is a local poet in the Portland writing community who came to me to help him design a cover for his self-published poetry collection, April Song.

Originally he planned to design his own cover, but after getting feedback from friends and other writers/poets, he changed his mind. We met and discussed his ideas and he left me with a copy of the final draft.

The poems within April Song are gritty, but at the same time beautiful, so I drew upon urban imagery for the cover. Poetry is about the details – the beauty of a single word and how it works in tandem with others to complete a phrase that resonates within a piece. So I chose a close up shot of a brick street (Portland still has some of these in the older areas), and superimposed a reflection of Mt. Hood into a puddle. It captured the ethereal nature of his poetry perfectly and he ended up selling a record number of copies.

“April Song” trade paperback

For his next project, he chose October and wrote thirty one poems during that month. When he was ready to publish, there was no question – he came back to have me design the cover for October Song. Expanding upon the nature theme, I chose imagery that captured the natural transformation of the seasons and, most importantly, the return of rain to the Pacific Northwest. I used the same typography and effects on the type to leet customers know that this was part of a set.

October Song was a hit and, more importantly, revived the sales of April Song. Mr. Pike was encouraged enough to pen two more collections, titled July Song and January Song.