In conversation with James Iacobelli



James Iacobelli is an Art Director working at Atria Books. He is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts and has worked for Harper Collins and St. Martin's Press before joining Atria as Art Director.

Courtesy of Atria

What does a typical day at Atria Books look like for you?

I'd normally grab an espresso before actually getting into the office. This was where I'd get a jump start on my day. Answering emails, setting an agenda, and sprinkling in research for my current list.

For non meeting days, a dark office, with music blasting in my ears, was normally how you'd find me. Throw in an afternoon CrossFit class to break up my day, more espressos, and loud music. I bounce a lot of ideas around with my amazingly talented wife, Olga Grlic, who is quick to let me know if I'm onto something good. Before you know it, I was biking home.

On jacket meeting days, I'd be rushing to print and wrap book covers to present. I put a lot of care into this process, I believe presentation is half the battle. 

The Oracle Year by Charles Soule

How did you get into the industry?

I landed an internship at HarperCollins during my senior year at SVA. Working around the most talented designers I've ever been around, I learned how to file book jackets in alphabetical order in a dark closet, HA! I fell in love with designing books during this time. Each a new challenge. I was hired full-time the week after graduating.

What are the most challenging parts of your role?

Taking rejection and turning them into positives. Commercial cover design has a big approval process, I learned early on that what I may think is "cool" or a "perfect" solution doesn't necessarily mean it's right for the market or audience. 

Ordinary Hazards by Anna Bruno

Has COVID had any impact on your work?

Covid impacts where I do my job, but not how I do my job. I still approach my work the same as I always have. With a blank photoshop document. 

What's the most memorable cover you've designed and why?

At this point, I'd say The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao. I was in love with the artist, Joseph Lee, and knew his art was perfect for this book. When I presented the jacket, it was unanimous. 

The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao

What are you currently reading? Or anything on your want-to read list? 

I'm eager to start reading an older book, Summerland by Michael Chabon. 

To stay up to date with James' design work, visit his website and follow him and Olga on Instagram