Hex
Author: Rebecca Dinerstein Knight
Designer: Greg Heinimann
Illustrations: Bridgeman Images, Shutterstock, and Greg Heinimann
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Cover designer, Greg Heinimann
I became a book cover designer through accident really. I’d recently graduated, but was more keen to pursue a career as a musician and songwriter than I was designer. I’d taken a job as as bookseller to keep things going, and had a eureka moment one day while looking at a particularly beautiful table of paperbacks. I think one can tend not to think of cover design as a real job that someone does…unless you know. Looking at this table made up of Safran Foer, George Saunders, McSweeneys et al, I knew then what I wanted to do. It also looked like I could marry design and illustration; I’d been discouraged at Art College to draw on my fine art background and it felt like something was missing - here I could marry both. I soon started as a Junior Designer at Vintage in London, and felt the possibilities were endless and extremely exciting with just what could be done with, essentially, filling a blank rectangle.

From Vintage I moved to Bloomsbury where I’ve been for over ten years now. I’ve had the opportunity to work on books by authors who made up that small book shop table, I’ve been lucky enough to work on genuinely great literature. I still adore what I do and still find it incredibly exciting even now.

So HEX, is a second novel and a campus one set among the lives of students working with poisonous plants. Sex, death, tutor obsession, dark humour and some very nasty greenery are all distilled here. Perfect! I set about combing through the book for all mentions of particular plants, gathering images of them, lab apparatus, spores, protective clothing and so on. My initial designs focused on petri dishes and sinister looking lab material, and on a skull made up of various deadly seeds and leaves. Interestingly, this was the direction I later found out the U.S. publishers had settled on too. 

Ultimately, I had this huge amount of botanical illustration and glass apparatus imagery, and I sought to combine all of that. I felt the characters in the story would be so familiar with the botanical renderings of these deadly plants from their textbooks, they should be the star and on the jacket. They could be made to look beautiful - like a (deadly) romantic bouquet. Having this newly emptied conical flask the centre of attention, I set the title type vertically, drawing your eye down to the upturned dead fly. I wanted the cover to be the smoking gun. Having this bloody red and sickly yellow tone wash all over the cover held everything together, and gave it that extra dip further into the macabre.

There are some nice little easter eggs elsewhere on the jacket: the spine features the ‘X’ of the title made into a pair of tongs picking up a ricin bean. The back cover features a spilled test tube, and the blurb  and author bio are framed in deadly nightshade leaves. The illustrated endpapers have this all-red sinister wallpaper, made up of spore-shaped skulls, with castor beans, poisonous plant leaves and spillages from the test tube all creating this lovely interacting diagonal movement.
Illustratrated sinister red end papers for Hex by Greg Heinimann.
Rejected cover comps for Hex
Greg Heinimann is Assistant Creative Director at Bloomsbury Publishing, where he designs and illustrates literary fiction and non-fiction book covers. He studied at Camberwell College of Art, Goldsmiths College, Central Saint Martins, and began a cover design career at Vintage (Penguin Random House). 

Awards: D&AD pencil award win for Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race
Winner, and twice finalist at the British Book Design and Production Awards
Three times shortlisted at the A.B.C.D awards
Designed covers that have won: the Man Booker Prize for Lincoln In The Bardo (with four shortlisted over the years), Women's Prize Winner for Home Fire, the Golden Man Booker Prize, the Pulitzer Prize for A Visit From The Goon Squad, Folio Prize Winner for Tenth of December, and National Book Award
Press: Interviews about his work featured in The Independent, Creative Review here and here,
Design WeekComputer Arts Magazine, Eye magazine, and The Bookseller.
Work featured in: The Times, Eye magazine, Phoenix magazine, Casual Optimist's 'Covers of Note' and 'Covers of the Decade', The Independent Book Design blog, and Spine magazine

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