Sqecial Media, Agnes Varda, Nicole Chung's cover design

September 6, 2019
Dear Friends,
Last year we welcomed a new sponsorship from one of my favorite stores in Lexington, Sqecial Media, and we’re grateful for their support again this year. Sqecial Media’s tagline is “books and curiosities," and this 2nd-floor treasure trove at 371 South Limestone does not disappoint: shelves upon shelves of silver jewelry, scarves, mobiles, paper lanterns, artisan greeting cards, candles, incense, soaps, and tobacco accessories.
Sqecial Media is also the curator of one of Lexington’s coolest festivals, the Rosa Goddard International Film Festival, and lucky for KyWomenWriters audiences, this year they are highlighting the work of the French feminist new wave director Agnes Varda. One of Varda’s best known works is Cleo from 5 to 7, a 1961 film that screens at the Kentucky Theatre on the night before our conference opens, Wed., Sept. 18, 7 p.m., at the Kentucky Theatre. Read more about that and other films in the series here.
            Thanks to Sqecial Media and our other major sponsors—LexArts’s Fund for the Arts, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, UK Libraries, and the UK College of Arts & Sciences—we’re able to offer four free events during KyWomenWriters2019. One of them is Nicole Chung's talk on transracial adoption. For any author, landing a publishing contract is only half the battle; there is also the drama of how well it will be published. If you’ve ever wondered about the process of designing a book cover, below is some fascinating commentary from the art director at Catapult Press, speaking about designer Donna Cheng’s work. To the left are 3 rejected covers, with the design far right.
“The earlier concepts that Donna [Cheng] had designed were conceptually strong and all had something we liked: the graphic treatment felt bold and like a big book but we felt they lacked an emotional component. We loved the use of the photorealistic branch and the soft changes in the background shadow that created some depth, but this cover had a self-help tone that felt limiting. Overall they each had strengths but were a bit too precious and incongruent with the author’s voice.
After the author had some more time to think about it, she began to question what the break in the branch might evoke about adoption. For her, adoption doesn’t mean brokenness beyond repair, or that lost family connections are beyond repair either — in many ways, the book is about how those connections and ties matter even when we don’t know how to name or talk about them. So we tried several versions and ended with one where the tendrils of the branch still make a connection with each other on either side. We needed to be sure that we were sending the right message about adoption, one that was positive so that this cover would honor Nicole’s experience and story.”  — Nicole Caputo, Creative Director at Catapult Press (courtesy of Electric Lit)
Julie Wrinn