I spent my 17th birthday in Nashville, Tennessee for a stop on John Green’s book tour for Turtles All the Way Down. Before the show, I was gifted a free copy of the book. Immediately, I noticed the intricate cover, similar to Green’s Fault in Our Stars in its bold colors and pop-art-esque design.
The power house behind these eye-catching covers is Rodrigo Corral. The New York based designer has created book jackets for Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling authors such as Chuck Palahniuk and John Green, as well as creative talent such as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Jay-z, and Derek Blasberg. The Mire reached out to Mr. Corral to ask him about his books, art, and his journey to find his career path.
Molly Webb: As a senior in high school, I’m witnessing (and experiencing) the constant urge to find our passion that’s supposed to lead us to our “dream jobs.” How did you end up designing book covers? Was it something that you’ve always wanted to do?
Rodrigo Corral: I am not surprised you have pressures to find out what your future career looks like. My path took me through junior college and then The School of Visual Arts. By my final semester it became clear I was interested in book cover design. Having access to the best in the field played a tremendous role in my pursuing it as a career.
Molly: Growing up in a social media centered generation has influenced how I view art, is there a piece of art or cover in particular that you continually admire? Does it influence how you think about your own work?
Rodrigo: I do not have a piece of art in mind but I do have set of values that guide me and inform my decision making process from how I approach work and all the way down to how I want the work to be viewed and valued.
Molly: I’ve spent countless hours roaming around Barnes & Noble, looking for my next inspiring story. I always find myself, quite literally, judging a book by its cover. What do you think makes people pick up a book? What makes you pick up a book?
Rodrigo: That sounds like so much fun! So many factors can stop someone in there tracks and pick up a book. Often times it can be simply color, a powerful image or the combination of an arresting title and cover art.
Molly: What’s your favorite cover that you’ve ever designed? Why?
Rodrigo: I would have to say a million little pieces. It was a project where I took a creative leap forward and established a confidence that I did not have consistently.
Molly: What’s one story you’ve read that you want to design the cover for?
Rodrigo: A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Molly: Does designing a cover make you feel more personally connected to the book’s overall impact on readers?
Rodrigo: Well by virtue that I designed the cover, I would have to say yes, but it is all really out of my control. That is the fun part knowing someone might never think twice about the cover and someone else might spend time reflecting what the cover means.
As for those equally stressed about their own future, Mr. Corral left me with some good advice for navigating my future that I want to share with The Mire readers going through their own existential crisis or that are healthily discovering their own path.
“Easier said than done, but career choices are big decisions and should not be rushed. I would say focus on what you would feel joy, pride, and above all something that be yourself as a creative.”