cover design love for Swollening by Jason Purcell

The Best Book Cover Designs at DesignRush

Jason Purcell’s poetry collection, Swollening, published by Arsenal Pulp Press is one of my favourite covers that I have ever designed. It’s one of those career highlights where all elements came into alignment to create a cover that the publishing team, the author, and readers absolutely love while also resonating deeply with the content of the book itself. This is why  I was delighted to hear from DesignRush (a platform known for promoting the best designs) that it was selected to be featured in The Best Book Cover Designs in the print category.

Collaborating with author and long time book lover Jason Purcell was a delightful experience while also a bit nerve wracking. Jason has a bookseller background which means they know firsthand which books sell and which don’t—which covers “pop” off the shelves and which recede into the background. I take each new book design as a collaborative learning experience and I was really looking forward to working with a fellow creative that has a unique perspective from the other side of the industry.

The cover of swollening by Jason Purcell featuring a cream background with the front teeth of someone's mouth shown from the inside of the mouth. You can see just the inside of the teeth which are in bright pink and orange tones. The gums are purple and green. The image is created in a very simple graphic color blocked style by Jazmin Welch.

The cover design for swollening by Jason Purcell.

a photo of the book swollening by Jason Purcell at my local bookstore, pulled out of it's spot on the shelf, selected as The Best Book Cover Designs

swollening by Jason Purcell, selected as The Best Book Cover Designs by DesignRush, spotted in the wild at my local bookstore, Epic Books in Hamilton, Ontario.

Behind the cover

Swollening is a beautiful collection of poetry that hits you in the gut. The writing is visceral and connected to feelings rooted in the body. These poems trace Jason’s experience with chronic illness and how our world treats and suppresses the queer body. For this reason we wanted to show a body or body part on the cover. This cover plays on the literal action of swallowing bad feelings and is also in reference to a line in a poem that reads, “seeing your teeth from the wrong side.” Teeth come up regularly in this collection both in literal and metaphorical senses. Just showing teeth would be one thing, but viewing the mouth as if you’re on the inside, creates an unsettling feeling that is compounded by the stark minimal type, and vast whitespace.

We know teeth to be an important part of our overall health, but many of us have strong unpleasant reactions to the word, “dentist.” This is another reason why this subject matter makes for a compelling cover that we hoped would intrigue the general public. Using bright clashing colors on the teeth rather than anatomically correct hues, adds extra tension and visual interest to the cover.

Check out this book cover design and more on our cover archive page.