I had the opportunity to help design a memoir—Steve Cox’s No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service. Steve talks a bit about his experience hitchhiking across the United States in the early 70s with a buddy of his. It was a really fun read, and a fun project, too.

The front cover for the story. Since the endpoint for the hitchhiking trip was the Colorado Rockies, I wanted to represent not just HITCHhiking, but HIKING as well. So I worked with the idea of a hitchhiker's hand doubling as a mountain, with our tiny hikers on top of it.

To visualize this, I took a photo of my own hand and scribbled some figures onto it, you can see that photo as one of my work-in-progress shots here. There's an outline view of the finished illustration, too.

I originally played with the placing a small waterfall at the base of the thumb, but this broke the feel of the cover a bit. It felt less abstract and symbolic, and more like some kind of fantastical world-building. So I yanked that back out.

Here's one of the hikers, enjoying a view. It was fun for me to figure out just the right amount of detail to include, so the illustration felt sufficiently 'alive'—without going too far and changing the vibe of the design. I felt like the birds were a good call, but much beyond that may have been overkill.

Here's the other traveler. I wanted to include a fair bit of detail, but made my concession to details lost at small sizes by darkening the figures quite a bit—they mostly appear as silhouettes, after all.

I wanted to include some pots and pans—that's what's hanging off his pack here—because the story described their clanking a couple times.

I was really happy with how the shading on the underside of these curled fingers turned out.

Here's how the book might look in print. It's pretty narrow, so I erred on the side of safety and left the spine blank, apart from that bit of ribbon at the bottom. The author plans to self-publish using CreateSpace.

…and here's the back cover. I kept it pretty simple, even though there's not a lot of copy back there—because I didn't want to compete with the front cover image.

I laid out the interior as well, here's a page from it. I used a pair of thumbs to divide sections, to call back to the pair of hitchhiking friends.

About the Book

I thought it was a fun and quick read—I had a blast with the project, and I wish Steve every success!