From the Design Desk: All in a Day’s Handwork

There’s something exhilarating about creating a piece of art or lettering by hand. I don’t know if it’s simply the act of picking up a pen, pencil, or paintbrush that sends the message “Happy!” to the brain or if it’s the meditative quality of the gesture or the focus required to coax image out of paper. Regardless of the mechanics at work, I love creating hand-rendered design elements. And based on the work I see around me every day, I know others do, too.

The Vogue Factor

The Vogue Factor
For this fashion tell-all by the glamorous Kirstie Clements, the former editor in chief of Vogue Australia, we wanted a cover that would capture the style and elegance of the fashion world, as well as its bold creativity. I was thrilled to put my paintbrushes to work for the cover illustration. To set the mood, I surrounded myself with tear sheets from various fashion mags and watched the inspiring documentary films The September Issue and Bill Cunningham New York—a perfect setting for creating cover art!

Going Over

Going Over
I fell in love with this story as soon as I read the manuscript and wanted to create artwork that evoked 1980s Berlin (the setting for the story) and captured the energy, danger, and relationship between the two main characters, Ada and Stefan. As Ada is a skilled graffiti artist, spray paint and hand-cut stencils became my tools of choice for the cover art and map of Berlin that appears on the book’s interior. The end sheets also include hand-drawn elements to communicate the full extent of the Berlin Wall (prior to working on this book, I had no idea that the “wall” consisted of so many levels).


For this whimsical cover, designer Ryan Hayes created the line art that brings the photos to life and immediately communicates the playful and interactive qualities of this book. Working with pencil and tracing paper, Ryan demonstrates just how much fun drawing on photos can be!

At The Same Moment

At the Same Moment Around the World
I’m delighted that even with so many typefaces available, the custom-drawn, hand-lettered tradition still continues. For this charming children’s book, Ryan again picked up his pencil and set to work, this time creating a beautiful alphabet specifically for use in this book’s title treatment.

Hand-Crafted Candy Bars

Hand-Crafted Candy Bars
Designed by Alice Chau and Lydia Ortiz, this deliciously decadent cookbook about creating hand-crafted candy bars from scratch required an equally rich and hand-crafted type treatment. Lydia illustrated each of the recipe titles to evoke the lush qualities of the most gorgeous candy bar wrappers and the irresistible qualities of the candy bars themselves.

Order any of the above titles and receive 30% off and free ground shipping. Just enter code DESIGNDESK at checkout.

Jennifer Tolo Pierce
Design Director

Jennifer Tolo Pierce

Jennifer Tolo Pierce is a Design Director at Chronicle Books with a love of all things words and images, particularly as they intersect in the realm of lifestyle and children’s publishing.
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