With the help of Canadian painters, Wedge Studio reimagines the covers of 25 modern classic book titles
Created for Indigo, the Canadian chain of bookshops, Wedge enlisted a diverse array of artists of different styles and at different stages in their careers.
- Olivia Hingley
- 27 September 2022
There’s nothing quite like a good book. There’s also nothing quite like a good book with a good looking cover. This is something known all too well by the Montreal and LA-based Wedge studio, who recently collaborated with cultural department store Indigo to reimagine 25 iconic book covers. Not taking the conventional route, however, Wedge called upon 25 emerging Canadian artists to paint or provide artwork that related to, or aesthetically suited, the tone and themes of the novels. And the results – ranging from figurative studies, abstract landscapes and intricate patterns – are really quite spectacular.
Sarah Di Domenico, creative director and co-founder of Wedge, explains how the project begun quite naturally: “Indigo is founded by a book and art lover, so it’s always been an idea that’s true to their nature,” she says. Importantly, Indigo and Wedge wanted a collection that felt “culturally relevant, fresh and ultra collectible”. But, at the same time they wanted to create a bigger idea beyond the conventional idea of cover design, “and hopefully readers will fall in love with a story and a new artist too".
Fittingly, the list of books was selected by the Indigo team who created a “strong and diverse list”. The titles range from 20th Century classics like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, to more recent literary sensations like Esi Edugyan’s 2018 Washington Black. Picking the artists took a similar framework, and Sarah explains the Wedge team have been intent on curating a varied list of artists across the country. One important feature was to have a range of artists at differing points in their careers. For example, Dan Climan who painted work for Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient and Amanda Knox’s Love Lives Here, is in the emerging stages of a sure to be flourishing career. Whereas Elizabeth McIntosh, who lent her work to Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing, is a well established artist who has works hanging in the The National Gallery of Canada.
Choosing a favourite of the covers would be like choosing a favourite child, but Sarah has selected a few that continue to resonate with her. For Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey, Sarah tells us it was important for her work to be “matched with a young female artist whose work could relate back to the sensitive subject matter”. Bianca Roco, the artist whose work ended up on the cover, also interacts with themes of love and relationships; her modern yet classically realised portrait works perfectly. Meanwhile, Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian has been paired with the colourful works of indigenous artist Jean Paul Langlois. The colour and vibrancy of the artwork Sarah says brilliantly reflects the subject matter – the warmth and kindness the author's mother felt being welcomed into the Métis community of her partner, his father.
Despite being a ‘design’ studio, Sarah shares that for this specific project the design elements almost became secondary to the story and artwork. “Of course it’s beautiful, but the content is what you see first, not the graphic design. You’re captured by the story that’s presented to you,” Sarah explains. “The design system kept all of this in mind.” To keep the designs consistent, Wedge applied a central shape or ‘window’ into the story. Composed of three different shapes, each relates to the form of the book: novel, biography or history. And, most notably, Sarah adds it was important to maintain the bright Indigo blue spine. “Just like the classic Penguin collections, we wanted design to play a functional role in support of a large breadth of different titles.” Too many books on your ‘to read’ pile? Looks like you better get making space for a whole lot more.
GalleryWedge Studios: Indigo Books (Copyright © Wedge Studios, 2022)
Wedge Studios: Indigo Books (Copyright © Wedge Studios, 2022)
About the Author
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.