{Designer Interview} Bloomsbury Art Director Donna Mark


Like today's designer interview? Don't forget to check out 
a guest post with ORDINARY MAGIC's author 
Caitlen Rubino-Bradway on World Building 
and my review of this awesome novel!

Bloomsbury Art Director Donna Mark put together the beautiful design that graces the cover of Caitlen Rubino-Bradway's debut middle-grade novel ORDINARY MAGIC.

An interview with 
Donna Mark

One thing that drew me to ORDINARY MAGIC was the gorgeous cover. I love how much detail has gone into everything, even inanimate objects. My eye always has something new to look at! How did you come up with the final cover's concept?

It's a very collaborative process. But in the end, credit has to be given to the artists, Zdenko Basic and Manuel Sumberac. They brought magic and life to all of the wonderful details you see on the cover. Zdenko and Manuel were able to blend concrete details mentioned in the book with ideas of their own, interpreting the story in a way that is truthful yet not so confined and literal.

Did you go through multiple ideas before finding this one?

The basic idea of showcasing the main character, Abigail, and the school was always there from the beginning but the school grounds went through many changes. Initially, there was a wall surrounding the school but we decided to remove it because the wall felt heavy and stiff, and made the cover look crowded, too busy. The current illustration is more open and light now, and Abigail appears to be looking towards her future and the endless possibilities ahead of her. With the wall, she would have looked caged.

What, to you, are the components that make up the best, most eye-catching cover?

The cover is like a movie poster for a book. The viewer should be engaged and able to understand the image and concept pretty quickly. Otherwise, the potential reader will lose interest and not move on to opening the book and reading further. I'm not saying that subtleties and nuances to a cover, making the viewer linger with intrigue, aren't appreciated – you just want to appeal to the viewer's senses fairly quickly.

As the Bloomsbury Children's Art Director, how much of a hand do you have in all of the covers that are put out? How do you work with other cover designers when they're doing the primary artwork?

Although I am responsible for all of the covers and interior book designs, I work with a terrific staff of designers and rely on their creativity and knowledge of art and design, art history, pop culture, and of course, books! I'm also lucky in that the editors have great vision and understanding of art and book covers. As I said earlier, it's a collaborative process. It's important to be open to ideas and share with others. Teamwork!

What do you consider to be the best covers you've designed?

That's a tough question. There are many that I love and for various reasons. Covers are special to me because of how they work and how differently they work. One could appear to be straightforward and simplistic but have multiple meanings, very conceptual and open to the viewer's interpretation. The opposite can be true where the imagery appears to be complicated but the theme or concept is singular and clear. Often, it's just a face but the expression is so engaging that you can't move your eyes away from the cover.

Donna, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk a little bit about the design process with us!  It makes me appreciate ORDINARY MAGIC's cover even more than I already do!


  1. "The cover is like a movie poster for a book. The viewer should be engaged and able to understand the image and concept pretty quickly."

    So true! The most successful covers for me are the ones that draw me in immediately and give me a sense of the story. Very nice interview, Bonnie! It's always so interesting hearing from the visual side of book-making :)

  2. Great interview! I love hearing the story behind the covers.

  3. Fantastic interview, I loved hearing the designers thoughts on the cover (which by the way is so cute!).

  4. I love that Stadium High School (Tacoma,WA) made the cover!


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