This Robert Burns poem cover design project is one of my self initiated projects and I wanted to use this opportunity to sharpen my book cover design and illustration skill as I haven’t had a chance to design a book cover for a long time. This is a real shame as I have always enjoyed designing and illustrating book covers a lot.
I always think of a book cover as the book’s face. How you make your book stand out amongst the millions of other books on the bookshelves is very important as it will really help the book sell. So I think a striking book cover design is a major part of marketing a book.
As you may know I worked as a chef in a five star hotel in Edinburgh and every year during this period there were always a lot of tourist groups that came out to have a Burns night celebration and Burns supper in the hotel. Robert Burns’ poem “Address to Haggis” is always the highlight of the event. Of course if you know a little bit about the traditions of Burns night and it’s celebrations and supper you will know “haggis” is a very big part of it. The title is a dead giveaway and Robert Burns will always be associated with haggis.
Robert Burns used this poem to tell people how much he loves haggis and how haggis is really good for you. I have to admit on the funny side of things I didn’t quite understand most of his original poem (hey, English is my second language) so I had to find a translation online but it’s a great poem. So I illustrated a plate of potatoes with neeps (turnips) and a giant haggis on top. I also illustrated a big jar of gravy on the side and a little bit of berry for garnish. Haggis, potatoes, neeps and gravy are also forever linked together.
As you might notice I always create very colourful illustrations so this time I decided to set myself a challenge. This was to use only three covers to complete the cover. I spoke to Eleanor Crow who is the designer and illustrator for Faber & Faber books and she kindly gave me some visual reference ideas. She mentioned an illustrator called Edward Bawden so that helped me visualise this project. His work helped me visualise food in just a few colours and seeing his work gave me ideas for creating this cover.
I chose a brownish colour which I feel matches the colour of most haggis’. Blue and white always reminds me of the Scottish flag and the blush pink softens and lightens up the whole cover. So that’s how and why I chose my colour palette.
On the back cover I illustrated another plate but the food on the plate has nearly gone which is symbolic of Robert Burns’ love and appetite for haggis. I’ve always thought an empty plate equals how delicious your food is and how much you enjoyed the food you just had.
I hope you like my book cover design and illustration and also hope one day you will see the book cover I illustrate in the book store. The most important thing is if you are in Scotland tomorrow I hope you enjoy your Burns night and Burns supper! (Don’t forgot to have haggis and whisky! )