Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Christopher Sergio: The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death

I love this cover, and Sergio provided me with a great breakdown of what went into creating it:

The "Mystic Arts...." is a noir crime-novel.

The book's protagonist works for a company called "Clean Team", on the
janitorial job from hell. These are the guys who come and clean up the blood
and guts of crime scenes after the CSI techs all head back to their posh
labs. Inevitably, due to his unique skill set, our hero gets drawn into the
drama of a crime/mystery in progress, and the horses are off.

I began my sketching and design process by focusing on the tools of the
trade: Rubber gloves, mops, buckets, sponges, spray bottles, etc. I tried to
find very clean shots of each, usually on stark white backgrounds, with the
intention of laying some handmade type over the whole cover to add in the
messy, crime-scene element. But in the end, this approach didn't seem
noir-ish enough. The imagery was just too bright.

So I went to the noir source, and sought out crime scene photos themselves.
I struck upon the idea of having a crime scene photo with the body
graphically removed, cut out, as if by magic. I also liked that this
solution has a double read: is the body removed, or just hidden from view?

Turning the crime scene photo on it's side like this also helped to create a
sense a tension. The silhouette seems awkward for a standing pose, and you
may not realize what you're looking at on first glance. I liked that the
crime-scenes numbers written on the photograph (lower left hand of the
cover) give you a clue as to the original orientation of the image.

I kept my earlier idea of using messy type (now red), which still seemed
appropriate, and just filled the negative shape of the body. The yellow is a
very bright Pantone, to suggest sanitizing and queasiness at the same time.
It also seemed to add a spirit-like quality, and play up the "mystic" of the

The black and white image is gloss so it feels like an actual photograph.
And the yellow silhouette is matte, to strengthen the visual cut out. (The
red type is spot glossed, so that it sits up on the page.)

Thanks, Chris!


Ian Koviak said...

bloody sexy.

Anonymous said...

Love it! Especially the quotes on the back.

Tal said...

I know! I love the quotes! It's so hot having the reviewer name be huge and so liberally hand-drawn.

Gould said...

Can anyone tell me who's the designer of this cover?

Looks like a cindy sherman photo and a CD Carson design no?

Tal said...

totes magotes.