F Scott Fitzgerald typographic covers

Orion’s repackaging of F Scott Fitzgerald’s writings enabled designer Sinem Erkas to get stuck into some Jazz Age-influenced typography. Her work for the series now covers six titles, the latest of which, The Last Tycoon, is published this week

Orion’s repackaging of F Scott Fitzgerald’s writings enabled designer Sinem Erkas to get stuck into some Jazz Age-influenced typography. Her work for the series now covers six titles, the latest of which, The Last Tycoon, is published this week…

Referencing Art Deco-era typography, Erkas has created bespoke faces for each book cover, aiming to design covers that are rooted in the 1920s but have a contemporary feel. Writing on the Waterstone’s blog, she talked through the look of series which has, since May this year, used a striking type-only treatment across all of the new editions.

For The Last Tycoon, above, Erkas writes that she “designed a grid of dots to represent the Hollywood Lights without being too literal, and made the structure of the typeface quite architectural.”

As the novel was unfinished at the time of Fitzgerald’s death in 1940, Erkas left some of these letters “half-formed, filling the blanks in with the dots. I have also confused the boundaries between some letters by making interesting ligatures,” she explains in her blog post.

For This Side of Paradise, Erkas merged Art Deco scripts with her own handwriting (the book’s main character is a writer), and created letterforms with intertwining arms. “These intimate letterforms can suggest romance or relationships and also creates an interesting sea-like rhythm,” she writes.

For The Great Gatsby, the first title Erkas designed – to coincide with the release of the new film – she developed a serif slab, breaking the typeface up with randomly positioned line work.

“I wanted this to have a glitzy feel but be quite haphazard at the same time, subtly reminding us of the book’s subjects,” she writes on the Waterstone’s blog.

The cover for Tender is the Night references some French Riviera “hand-painted seaside lettering that unusually had dots above the uppercase I’s,” writes Erkas. “I used double lines and bars on this typeface evoking the Art Nouveau design style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.”

The type used on the cover of The Beautiful and the Damned was inspired by 1920s cafe culture; “the heavily geometric shapes on the cafe shop fronts and design paraphernalia,” says Erkas.

Using Futura, Erkas distilled each form to its basic shape and “the cover is a mixed bag of readable and more abstract letterforms … something beautiful but at the same time broken up, hinting at Fitzgerald’s themes of money, relationships and destruction.”

For Fitzgerald’s collection of short stories, Tales of the Jazz Age, Erkas’s cover is just a celebration of the Jazz Age, she says. “This is probably the most contemporary-looking design out of all of them,” she adds, “and I drew the typeface in continual line to look quite industrial as well as heavily stylistic.”

The F Scott Fitzgerald series is published by Orion, with The Last Tycoon available from the end of this week. Tales of the Jazz Age will be published in March 2014. More of Erkas’s work is at sinemerkas.com.


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