Relax It's Just God

'Behind the Legs' — The Making of the 'Relax' Cover

We've gotten a lot of diverse feedback on the cover for Relax, It's Just God. People think it's either interesting or frustrating, really cool or just plain hard to read. We love the cover, of course, and we believe it sets the perfect tone for our company's strong design sensibility and dedication to providing readers with bright, vibrant, engaging content. For a bit more of the backstory, though, we asked cover designer Andrew Byrom to take us deeper into the design process for this particular book. Here's what he had to say.

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By Andrew Byrom

After working for many years designing books for publishers like Penguin, Routledge and McGraw Hill, I have come to realize that the job of a cover is not simply to illustrate what's inside the book, but to set a tone for what's to come — much like how title sequences telegraph a mood in movies. I see covers as "postcards" from the book to the reader, and, as such, they should not try to be all-encompassing.

Several challenges struck me when considering a cover design for the subject of parentingand religion. Any ideas involving the visualization of God or religious references were quickly pushed aside in favor of a purely typographic approach. 

The design that developed for Relax, It's Just God: How and Why to Talk to Kids About Religion When Your Not Religious played up its humorously long title. In the final design, the larger letterforms of Relax, It's Just God take on the role of parents — strong and established. The letters in the subtitle — with elements disappearing behind the larger type — act as shy children looking out at the world from behind the legs of their guardians.

The bright yellow was also a considered choice. As this is the first publication from Brown Paper Press, I wanted to set a precedent that vivid color would be used on future publications and not the more obvious use of the color brown. I also wanted to introduce the white border on this cover and have it broken by the typography as a way to acknowledge the mission of this new and interesting publisher — to break the rules and represent challenging content.

It's visually (and literally) outside the box from the very start. 

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Andrew Byrom is a British-born graphic designer and educator based in Long Beach, California. His clients have included The Architecture and Design Museum, The New York Times Magazine, Penguin Books, Sagmeister Inc., and UCLA Extension. His experimental and multi-disciplinary design work has been exhibited across the US, Europe and Asia and has been recognized by the AIGA and the Type Directors Club. Byrom is also a Professor at California State University Long Beach where he teaches classes in Graphic Design, Typography, and the History of Graphic Design. He can be found at www.andrewbyrom.com