CASE STUDY | NOT A CULT
Corazón Cover Art
Art Direction & Print Design
Publisher Not a Cult needed a book cover designed for author Yesika Salgado’s debut book of poetry. When we started this project, Salgado was already popular on Instagram, but did not have printed and published books to sell. The challenge was to create an attractive cover and brand that foreshadows the contents of the book, without giving anything away.
Create a marketable visual identity for Corazón
Develop unique cover art that visually tells the story of Yesika's writing
Deep Dive into Poetry
Synthesis of textual analysis & visual research
To understand and define the problem, I first spent time talking with the publisher about his understanding of the work and what ideas were most important.
I did a deep-dive into reading the manuscript, highlighting and keyword searching the book as I made lists of themes and potential imagery I could use. I also started to do research on themes and common ideas I found in the text such as body positivity, El Salvador, and contemporary dating. My research included visual research (what have others done related to this topic?) and reading other writers who have explored bi-cultural and dating topics.
I was inspired by vintage botanical illustrations and I ended up collecting a lot of scrap flower illustrations during this course of this and Yesika Salgado's other book designs. I remember Google searching "flowers of El Salvador" and reading about festival traditions that involve produce/flowers.
Collage as a form of ideation
I began to narrow my focus, allowing me to ideate more rapidly, moving between paper/traditional medium and digital medium. I sampled different fonts and images to find the sweet spot. I finally landed on a synthesis of the ideas of mango (a common reference in the text and symbol of El Salvador) and an anatomical heart (corazón). This synthesis worked because of the similar shapes of a heart and a mango. This added a layer of meaning to the poetry, creating a metaphor of a heart as an unripened mango.
An up & coming poet
With incredibly hard work, lots of talent, and the help of a beautiful book cover, Yesika Salgado went on to be published in the Los Angeles Times, NPR, Univision, TEDx, CNN, Teen Vogue, and countless other digital platforms. Yesika has since published two more books with Not a Cult, titled Tesoro, and Hermosa. The Corazón cover art was so popular that it was turned into tote bags and greeting cards. The artwork inspired tattoos, stickers, cookie designs, and the hashtag #mangomafia, which Yesika uses on Instagram for her fans. Today, Corazón can be found in bookstores and libraries across the country.
We can't keep Corazón in stock! Word of mouth travels fast with this up and coming poet."
—Steve Salardino at Skylight Books
Amazon Product Review