Books, Art, & Visual Culture

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Writing and design by Melissa Hill, graphic designer.

Bookshop visit: Knjizara Ljevak, September 2018

I spent five weeks in Croatia recently and of course, what does one do on holidays but take photos of books through bookshop windows? Mmm yeah, completely normal behaviour! This is just a little post to share with you some of the book covers that caught my eye. I’m not even going to try to find out who designed these… that is often difficult enough in English. Thanks to Google and my husband, the extent of my Croatian is “Good morning” “Good bye” “Thank you” “Elephant” “Monkey” “Frog” and a few swear words. So yeah, all the essentials.

1. Henry Miller Život, by Robert Ferguson. OK, this looks like it’s a Croatian translation of this book. Maybe it was just recently translated, because this cover design is a lovely modern refresh for something written in the 90s. I love the naive style of the illustration and the striking combination of pale pink and cobalt blue.

2. Hrvatska/Croatia the cookbook. I actually had a flick through the insides of this one on a later bookshop visit and it’s a really attractive book, although way too heavy to bring home with us. Cookbooks in Croatia obviously aren’t yet the blockbusters they are here in Australia, because modern, attractive ones are few and far between. Actually, this was the only one I saw so they’re obviously trying to shake things up a bit! But yeah, I like the use of the traditional Croatian red and blue and how the colours are swapped around for the English and Croatian editions. The hand drawn illustrations and lettering give it a nice authentic vibe.1

3. Sunce i njeni cvjetovi, by Rupi Kaur. OK I might have exaggerated how many Croatian words I know because I can see this is something about sunflowers even if the cute illustration didn’t give it away. I like how understated this cover is.

4. Filozofija u Nezavisnoj Državi Hrvatskoj, by Ivan Macut. Elegant white space and a classic typeface for a philosophy book? Yes please.

5. Ukazanje, by Ivica Ɖikić. I think the illustration is quite cute on this and I enjoy the impact of the extreme zoom into the rabbit’s face. Or is it a cat? Also, the distortion of the title treatment is quite interesting.

6. Kako Pronaći Ljubav U Knjižari, by Veronica Henry. Looks like another translation… a pretty cute Croatian edition of this book. I like the illustration and the integration of the title into it. Plus, it’s just a really nice shade of pink.

7. Ljubomorni, by Sándor Márai. I like the interesting illustration treatment on this one, the use of the vintage illustration but then sectioning it off into areas of flat, modern colour. The deep yellow is particularly eye-catching.

I hope you enjoyed that brief foray into book cover designs in a foreign language. It’s often quite interesting observing design when you visit other countries, to see if you can pick any aesthetic conventions that you take for granted in your home culture that don’t apply.