Elena is a book cover designer, she was born in Crema, a small town in Northern Italy close to Milan. She started designing book covers in 2005, randomly (in her own words). She has been involved in several projects in different graphics fields from identity systems to pattern designs, logos and fanzines. Elena moved to New York in 2008, with the aim to work in american publishing. Needless to say she succeeded and she’s currently working with Rodrigo Corral and Peter Mendelsund, but she has collaborated with some of the most important American and Italian book publishers.
Could you please tell us more about your background and career?
I graduated in Design at Politecnico di Milano in 2001. I started right away to work as a designer, first for a free press magazine called ZERO, then for a couple design studios. In 2005 I got hired as in house designer at Mondadori. I fell in love with book cover design and in 2008 I moved to New York, where I’ve worked for Rodrigo Corral and I’m currently working at MUcca Design, as art director for BUR Rizzoli Italy, and I’m freelancing for different american publishers, such as Penguin, Knopf, Random House, Farrar Starus and Giroux.
Could you tell us something that, in your opinion, gave your career a twist?
The New York experience, I learned that if you want something and you knock at the door, someone will open with a smile.
To which of your projects are you most fond of? Why?
There’s any project in particular. I’m proud when I decide to try new techniques. I lately tried to use watercolors, doing handlettering, or editorial illustrations. It’s fun to try something different and see that you can do it!
How do you find working in New York City? Can you tell us a bit about what’s life there like? Why did you choose to live there in the first place?
I moved to NYC because I wanted to work for american publishers. Being a book cover designer I’ve always looked ad american covers as funny, smart, extremely creative, very distant from italian publishing, which is pretty conservative and ehm… boring. Working here is wonderful. Art Directors here trust me and my work, even if they never heard about me before I moved here. They give me a lot of creative freedom and they are also super nice and talented people.
What are your favorite fanzines – magazines – books?
I like to read basically everything. Lately I’m really enjoying Truman Capote. American literature is my favorite in general. Magazines: I like reading The New Yorker, New York Magazine. I like Apartamento and Monocle (mostly for the illustrations, I have to admit). IL, supplement to Il Sole 24ore, is a great magazine designwise, stunning. Unfortunately I don’t have the chance to read it because it’s not distributed in the US.
When approaching a commissioned work, what are your sources? How do you prepare?
I constantly save the images I find on the internet in organized folders I created on my computer. I have a very bad memory and whenever I need inspiration these folders are very useful. They are categorized by illustrations, art, photography, lettering, vintage graphics, etc. I also started using Pinerest lately. Then I take a break and I go to bookstores to look for inspiration.
What’s the latest project you have been working on?
There’s never a big project or a latest project I’m working on. I usually design several covers at a time. So..I guess the answer is simply book covers.
Where do you see yourself in a few years time?
Ah. Who knows. Maybe either working for Knopf in New York or having my own studio in Milan. I’m a homesick person sometimes, so I probably wouldn’t mind going back home in a little while.
Who is the woman you’d like to see featured/ interviewed here?
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