With neon colours and sci-fi iconography, Gordon Reid designs the cover for Mogwai’s music memoir

In his cover design for Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai’s memoir Spaceships Over Glasgow, Gordon opted for a bright, illustrative approach, reminiscent of old sci-fi books.

29 September 2022

The music memoir section of any bookshop tends to be pretty homogenous; spines of dark coloured covers and moody portraits staring out intently at you from the shelves. This is also something that’s been picked up on by designer Gordon Reid. “I feel like the music memoir genre of book covers tend to be a photo or something a little cliche, like beer cans and instruments illustrated on it.” And so, when designing the covers for a series of memoirs from Stuart Braithwaite, lead singer and guitarist of Mogwai, Gordon was keen to do something a little different.

Perhaps most evident in his veering away is Gordon’s use of colour. “I really wanted the colours to be super vibrant, partly as they need to stand out on the bookshelves and thumbnails online,” he details, “and I also thought that a kind of fluorescent, neon style could look amazing on a cover”. Moreover, to align with both the primary title of the series Spaceships Over Glasgow, and both his and Stuarts interest in “some pretty niche and nerdy sci-fi and comics”, Stuart went for a “surreal illustrative style” to adorn the cover. “My initial inspiration was old sci-fi book covers, like the amazing Isaac Asimov covers by Chris Foss, that invite you into these surreal worlds,” Gordon says. Opting for an abstract depiction of lines and geometric shapes, the details give the book its recognisably sci-fi touch. Moreover, In a particularly nice touch, these illustrations also feature in the book’s deep blue insert pages.


Gordon Reid: Spaceships Over Glasgow (Copyright © Gordon Reid & White Rabbit, 2022)

Originally beginning as a fairly simple project for a single book cover, the project evolved from multiple covers to special editions and slipcovers. “This is like the dream brief for a book cover design right?” Gordon muses. “It’s grown so much in such an exciting way.” Initially pitching around 10 cover ideas, nothing fitted quite like the core orange, psychedelic front cover – and luckily the White Rabbit publishers agreed. “So when I presented my ideas, I pitched the style we went with first as this illustrated world, and emphasised how the style and colour scheme could evolve really nicely and be adapted to multiple covers, digital and print assets,” Gordon tells us. An incremental process, Gordon and art director Steve Marking, played it by ear each week, firing ideas at one another and testing things as they went. “It was a really fun creative process to get it to where it is,” Gordon adds.

Designing the covers meant also working closely alongside Stuart who was “super supportive and open to ideas for years” – this was a big bonus for Gordon. It's also not their first project together; the two have worked on projects for Mogwai for many years. “Stuart was great to work with as always,” Gordon says. “We both brought the same covers as references on our first chat about ideas which kicked things off nicely, then I just went to town on this concept and suddenly we had four covers, a slip case and the rest!”

GalleryGordon Reid: Spaceships Over Glasgow (Copyright © Gordon Reid & White Rabbit, 2022)

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Gordon Reid: Spaceships Over Glasgow (Copyright © Gordon Reid & White Rabbit, 2022)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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