Sometimes my job is less about high-concept and more about just finding the right image. On those occasions, Corbis is a lifesaver. (Here’s hoping posting these comp images doesn’t get me slapped with some huge fee from them!)
If I remember correctly, this book was taking on big agribusiness in California, so I needed something that said “California,” “agriculture” generally (The “bread” in the title is, I believe, mostly metaphorical), with maybe just a hint of Lefty disapproval. These are probably all pretty self-explanatory, but that’s never stopped me yet.
Here’s the first one:
I like that there’s something unhealthy looking about the colors here—I think it might actually just be autumn in the photo, but the fields look practically radioactive. Sounds like big agribusiness to me! The design-y elements here are stolen from—or, *ahem* inspired by, rather—Sean Phillips’ covers for the first run of Sleeper. What does Sleeper have to do with agribusiness? Um, nothing at all, but wasn’t that white border with the type bleeding into it a great look?
This next photo I liked for its vaguely Orwellian organization, and also there’s something of a “thinning hair” effect (to my non-farmer’s eye, anyway) that seems to suggest land that isn’t being treated as it ought to be.
There’s something vaguely sad about this photo, and something about those yellow rain pants takes this out of idyllic family farm territory. Plus, you’ve got to throw in at least one comp highlighting the workers to get your lefty street cred.
The type treatment on those last two was shamelessly stolen from Michael Boland, one of Criterion’s best regular freelance designers. You might recognize similar font sets on projects like Ali: Fear Eats the Soul or Contempt. (Though I think he uses them better than I do here.) I’m pretty glad these comps didn’t get chosen, actually, because this is pretty blatant design plagiarism. Sorry, Michael! Luckily, since they were never printed, I don’t have to lose too much sleep over it.
And this last one should be pretty self-explanatory. They’re Giant! That’s probably due to some unnatural hormones or something, right?
So I sent all those over, and they liked the first one best, but asked for a new type treatment. (Which was fair, considering that type had nothing to do with the book.) Also, by that time they had a better idea of the specs of the actual book, which were a little wider than the comps I’d been making, and of course the subtitle had changed. Incorporating all of those elements, I arrived at the final cover: