Covers that Speak: Designing for Controversial Topics

If you ever visited a book store, you already know that capturing a reader’s attention starts with a powerful book cover (except when it doesn’t – but that’s a another topic for another article).

Creating one for controversial topics is a whole new level of challenge. And it’s not about being provocative just for the sake of it; the design needs to have purpose, to make the viewer question and explore their own reality. In the same time, a cover is at the intersection of the artistic and business aspects of the peice to be published – requiring the designer to be both an artist and savvy marketer.

Creating a beautiful book cover is not that tricky anymore

There are plenty of great tutorials and amazing creative hacks on designer pages about colours, typography, composition, etc. Nowadays, artificial intelligence can also help you create special graphic element and countless websites offer cover templates that, with a little modification, can produce the desired result.

But it’s one thing to create an aesthetically pleasing, eye-catching cover and another to create the right one that resonates. Especially when the topic is complex and the manuscript consists of profound discourses. 

Creating the right book cover

Every designer has their own approach and opinions differ wether it is compulsory or not to read the manuscript before the ideation. Sometimes, material or time constraints make it impossible to read the book, or even to get a thorough enough summary beforehand. 

However, when it comes to complex and controversial topics, our team insists on reading the peice and dives deep into related research. This practice helps us in the planning stage to design a cover not based on the plot but based on either the reading experience or the core and subtle message of an essay collection.

Also, when we have the chance to read the manuscript and get the full picture, we can do a better job in the post-publishing promotion, where our content strategists are often involved.

Wehenever possible, we pay attention to the specific ideas of the author which then we have to align with the publisher’s expectations. This can be a tough task because author and publisher might have different visions – though they have the same interests.

Ultimately, the final product should make potential readers feel like they just have to pick up that book and turn its pages, or can’t help but click on it to get more details.

What to pay attention to when designing visuals for controversial topics

Here are a few thoughts and lessons from our graphic designers about how to approach cover design in controversial and complex topics:


Cover plan (SciArt)

Cover plan (SciArt)

In the end it’s about crafting a visual gateway to profound discourses.

If you need help with your new publication project and don’t want to end up with something like this

let’s talk!

Consult with our experts.

Consult with our experts.