I’ve had quite a few readers ask if I’d give some commentary on the Re-Covered Book: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz entries submissions which I thought were good, but didn’t end up winning. I thought it would be nice to give some pointers on what I really liked about these entries and some thoughts on what I think they could have done better. Think of it as an online crit.
This design was an early front runner to win the competition. When I first saw his design I was shocked that he was able to cut out all of these elements from money and put it all together into a cover. The amount of time and effort it must have taken is pretty mind-blowing. Visually, I think this is the most complex entry.
The reason why I didn’t choose this entry though is because the story isn’t about money. There are allusions to money in the story (that her silver slippers was about the price of silver and that when you watch The Dark Side of Oz the song Money starts playing when she opens the door to Oz) but that’s not what the book is about.
I also have some issues with the blurriness of some of the objects. For a piece so detailed the bottom part of the image feels like it was stretched a bit too much. There’s also a weird drop shadow on some elements and the light is coming from below, which is kind of visually odd when the rest of the elements are totally flat.
Next up is this entry from April Scarduzio, which in my mind is the version you’d see being sold at Anthropology. I love the image, I love the hand-written text, and the colors are beautiful. I think the image of the woman, face hidden from view, is a really nice touch. I think this allows the reader to insert herself into the book. My problem comes in because of the outfit and wrist accessories which are too contemporary and don’t fit the book at all.
Now, I’m guessing she didn’t take this photo, and she didn’t have some huge budget to work with either, so I don’t fault her. I think you’d need a real photographer to pull something like this off correctly, but I think April’s concept is super strong.
Lastly is this cover from design duo Ben Wallis & Mike McVicar. What I loved about their piece was the amazing image. The idea of her life being turned upside down is a fantastic visual metaphor. The image is powerful and epic looking, it shows you that crazy things happen in this book. I also think the colors in the image are spot on and are really pretty.
Where I think this cover design goes wrong is the typography. All of the emphasis is placed on the word “Wonderful” rather than the “Wizard of Oz.” If the emphasis had been switched, I think the cover would have been a lot more effective.
I hope the folks I’ve critiqued here don’t take offense to any of the things I’ve outlined. These are simply my opinions, and opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one. Hopefully some of you get some insight into the things I look for in a good piece of design and that this helps you some. I’ll try to continue doing these with each subsequent cover contest if you find them helpful or insightful.