In conversation with Grace Han



Grace Han is an Associate Art Director at Riverhead Books. She received her BFA degree from the School of Visual Arts. 

Her clients include Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Bloomingdales, and The New York Times.

As an Associate Art Director at Riverhead Books, what does a typical day look like for you?

Each day varies, but it usually consists of designing, reviewing projects with the Riverhead team, and sorting out the technical aspects of getting a physical book jacket printed. I feel lucky to be able to say that the pandemic has brought flexibility to my work day. I'm still working on finding the right work-life balance this flexibility affords me. These days, the balance is a bit off as I'm finding myself designing at 3 am. 

My Year Abroad by Chang-Rae Lee, published by Riverhead

Do you have a favourite place in the world that you look to for inspiration? 

I don't have a particular place I look to for inspiration, but I do enjoy traveling and learning about new things. Making connections in unfamiliar places and simply enjoying the present moment really excites me and fuels me creatively. 

There Will Be No Miracles Here by Casey Gerald, published by Riverhead

What cover design has been most memorable for you? And what was the process like?

A lot of covers are memorable, but I'd have to say that designing Gretel and the Dark was a turning point for me as a book cover designer. Riverhead was my first job out of school and the pressure to do well was weighing me down and keeping me from designing anything good. After a few unsuccessful rounds for Gretel in the Dark, I hunkered down in my basement and wrestled with my anxieties and doubts. I pulled an all-nighter like I used to in college and finally came up with designs I wasn't embarrassed to share. I still have doubts and struggles, but that project taught me that if I invested time and allowed myself to work through bad ideas, the process wouldn't fail me. 

Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville, published by Riverhead

I've seen Elizabeth Gilbert's City of Girls book everywhere, which I know you designed! I'm a big fan of the author following her debut memoir Eat, Pray, Love. Could you tell me about the inspiration behind that gorgeous cover? 

Theaters, thespians, and showgirls in 1940s New York—City of Girls is rich with inspiring imagery. The author shared that she wanted the book to go down like a gin fizz. I also wanted this vibrant energy communicated on the cover. After a few rounds, I came up with the idea of feathers in motion. I thought this painted an exciting moment, frozen in time and space. 

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, published by Riverhead

Are you reading anything right now? What books are on your to-read shelf?

I just started reading Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong. I've been wanting to read it ever since it came out, (especially because Na Kim's design is brilliant), but I never felt quite mentally and emotionally prepared for it until now. 

My to-read list is ever-growing, but Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro is probably next. Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison are also on my list. 

Florida by Lauren Groff, published by Riverhead

Stay up to date on Grace's work by visiting her website or Instagram