In conversation with Nicole Caputo

IN CONVERSATION WITH

NICOLE CAPUTO

Nicole Caputo is an award-winning New York graphic designer specializing in book cover design. She is the Creative Director of Catapult, Counterpoint Press and Soft Skull Press and is also co-founder of She Designs Books, an organization that celebrates women in book design. Her former role was VP, Creative Director at Hachette Book Group.

Nicole's awards include the ADC One Club Silver Cube, One Show, AIGA/NY, HOW International Design, PRINT Regional Design, the New York Book Show, the National Gold Ink Awards, London International Creative Competition, Communication Arts, Type Director's Club, Art Director's Club, STEP Design Magazine, and the Publishing Professionals Network.

Nicole Caputo

Thanks for chatting with me today, Nicole! How did you get into the publishing industry?

It is a longer story than this but so, I attended SVA (School of Visual Arts, New York City)  and was already very much in love with the idea of working on covers and on books. My entire portfolio contained book covers, handmade and bound artists books full of my own illustrations. My first opportunity was in magazine publishing, which I did for a little under a year. Following that I had been recommended by one of my instructors for a junior level designer position at an indie publishing house called the Perseus Books Group. I worked there for twelve years, rising from that position eventually to VP, Creative Director. I was able to rebrand them, and move through a few mergers, one that landed us as a part of Hachette. 

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You’re the Creative Director at Catapult, Soft Skull and Counterpoint Press. What’s a day in the life for you?

A day in the life includes art directing my staff on their covers and jackets and sometimes special company-wide projects, selecting freelance designers and providing art direction to them, designing and often illustrating my own covers and reading incredible manuscripts for the three lists, some budgeting, meeting with the art team and other teams, having virtual coffee dates with other colleagues or the wider team. I also try to set time aside to learn new skills and techniques, an ongoing challenge, but I’m doing better with this lately.  

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The Tiger and the Cage by Emma Bolden

I’m in awe of your portfolio. What’s the most memorable cover you’ve designed and why?

I always think back to Feathers by Thor Hanson and also 8 by Amy Fusselman. These were done earlier in my career. It was such a victory to persuade the team to go with a title less cover and also felt extremely rewarding to have them trust that a design like each of these would help sell the book and grab readers attention, maybe even expanding each author's audience while also feeling aligned with the content. 

Are you reading anything right now? Any must-reads for the coming months?

I just finished The Survivalist by Kashana Cauley, which is my first Soft Skull project as their Creative Director and it is so fantastic. She is an incredibly talented writer and works in TV so the book is cinematic (I’ve already chosen all the actors and actresses that will be in the series). She tackles some heavy topics and the book is packed with humor and darkness and is extremely relatable. I could not put it down. 

The Survivalists by Kashana Cauley

To see more of Nicole Caputo's stunning design work, visit her on Instagram, check out her company, She Designs Books, and visit the publishing imprints at which she's the Creative Director (Counterpoint, Soft Skull, and Catapult).


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