Cover of Duct-Taped Roses by Billeh Nickerson

The above cover shows an entirely different, type-based approach. Ultimately, the contrails won out.

Duct-Taped Roses

Billeh Nickerson’s collection of poems was a joy to read—it's full of vivid imagery. A long poem, “Skies,” tells of is of his bush-pilot dad: “his love of duct tape and how when bush piloting on Canada’s east coast he’d sometimes use it to reinforce parts of his plane.”

Recipe for a Cover

1 image of a contrail from a small plane against a blue sky

1 morgue tag repurposed as an airplane banner ad

1 typestyle to evoke duct tape (but not overtly), Campione Neue Sans

1 typestyle to whimisically evoke skywriting, Gelato Script

Directions: Photoshop to make it all look real and design to make it hang together and evoke the bittersweet, whimsical, elegiacal tone of the book.

Of course, the above makes it seem easy. Sometimes it is—but usually, we go through many different options. The book cover at left was on the shortlist and didn't make the cut. But I particularly like type-based covers: this book’s title came with a perfectly placed hyphen-as-duct-tape, and I constructed a rose out of it, complete with “Poems” as a thorn and a drop of blood at its end. There are dark themes in the book, hinted on both here and on the cover that was printed—is the plane in distress or doing tricks?

Publisher: Bookhug Press, Toronto, 2021
Author: Billeh Nickerson


I rendered the contrail as an old newspaper photo, printed on the inside front and back covers.

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