My most challenging book cover design project yet!

Tonight I started working on a book cover design for David Keith’s “It was 1975: Rages to Riches and Sometimes Voices”. David has put together a very detailed montage/sketch of his book cover vision, as well as a highly complex set of directions.


The title of the book is: IT WAS 1975 (Rags to Riches and Sometimes Voices).  I want the cover design to replicate the attached design I made.  The story is about a long struggling journey, which includes hitchhiking across the U.S. in the character’s early twenties.

  • I want the backdrop to be a foreboding desert landscape, with a smaller saddened hitchhiker wearing a green army jacket and his white small dog (30 pounds) near his side.  Maybe have a couple buzzards circling above. 
  • A few years later the character has a religious experience but it is not the main theme of the book so on the right is an almost faded country church that has some illumination. 
  • The present day middle aged man with my likeness bursts through the canvas and behind him peering out and one trying to reach for him are two ominous dark shadowy people (eyes seen), who have been the voices in his head for years.  The backdrop inside the tear has micro-fine red random words of doubt or ridicule, some of which over lap outside the tear.  
  • The man has an overjoyed expression as he finds a mountain of riches (can be money, jewels, gold, etc.). 
  •  I would also like somewhere in the cover an iconic representation of the 60s/70s, such as a peace sign.  Better yet, next to the road where the hitchhiker is, have a tilted road sign with a peace sign sprayed painted on it

Now normally, my first instinct would be to say “Your idea is waaaay too busy. There’s no way to pull this off.” But instead, I want to see if I can exactly replicate David’s cover, and manage to make it look awesome. I think sometimes the effort that goes into designing a cover like this – finding all of the perfect elements and blending them together seamlessly – is vastly underestimated… so I want to show the process of how a book cover gets developed from a very specific plan like this into a real cover.


This is a rough mock-up based on the images I was able to find. It is pretty busy, but it’s not too busy. If this design gets the go-ahead, I can clean everything up and blend it together so it looks more realistic. Some problems:

  • Couldn’t find a hitchiker in a green jacket
  • The church doesn’t fit into the background, because this scene bends down rather than up as it recedes.
  • For the same reason, I can’t put the church that high up (it would be too far away to see) so it has to go lower, but then the center tear-demon-gold elements has to be in the middle. May be able to fix this with a different background.

Updates coming soon!