In conversation with Christopher Moisan
IN CONVERSATION WITH
Christopher Moisan is the Creative Director for Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, he worked for many years at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt before joining Algonquin. Christopher lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
As the Creative Director at Algonquin, what does a typical day look like for you?
Lots of discussions with my amazing colleagues, lots of emails, lots of housekeeping and pre-production, never quite as much time for design as I'd like!
Could you tell me about the process of designing a book cover?
Work on every cover begins with reading as much of the book as possible, conferring with my colleagues on direction, and lots of research. Having a sort of mental rolodex (or mental Instagram I guess, it's 2021!) -- a good memory for visual references from a wide range of fine arts, design, and everyday life -- really helps.
Many years ago, I convinced myself that my first instinct, the imaginary cover-to-be in my head, was always the right way to go. Now I'm not so sure (sometimes it's the 30th cover that works), but I do try to design in my head or in thumbnail sketches before I wrestle with Creative Suite. And then, after designing, there's presenting, and often re-designing...
What cover has been most memorable for you?
That is so hard to say, because each project is its own universe. But recently I've had the chance to work with some illustrators I've admired for years: Laurindo Feliciano on LIBERTIE, Dan Funderburgh on PERPETUAL WEST, and Shyama Golden for THE ARCHER. I love designing series, and the opportunity to redesign/illustrate José Saramago's backlist was a thrill.
Who inspires you most?
The authors, the editors, the Publisher, all of the people at Algonquin who work so hard on these books from submission to reprints, but most of all, my great team: Laura Williams, Cathy Schott, and Steve Godwin. They are so creative, talented, and committed. And I can't forget the freelance designers and illustrators we work with!
In what way, if any, has the pandemic affected your work?
I started here -- or "here" -- at Algonquin after the lockdown started. So making personal connections with everybody has had challenges. But somehow communicating via Zoom has helped me engage with everyone pretty well. Travel always inspires me, so I'm eager to see new places again.