Welcome to another exciting edition of the Cover Art Spotlight series here on Always Trust In Books. I get to feature a British design studio who have been operated for over 15 years and are bringing out some seriously awesome work. I am (infuriatingly) jealous of the talents these artists, I don’t have an artistic bone in my body sadly, but thats why I love celebrating the work of talents such as Scot Bendall. Scott has graciously given some of his time to answer a few questions about the design studio La Boca and what they are all about! Thanks Scot and I hope you all enjoy another dive into the amazing scene of Cover Art.
About La Boca
Established in 2002, La Boca is an independent design studio specialising in illustration and image-making. We strive to create emotional connections through our work and value any small part we can play in contributing to popular culture as a whole.
We’ve worked with a wide spectrum of international clients, on projects ranging from limited edition vinyl record sleeves through to full-scale campaigns that touch just about every type of media. We are based in Notting Hill, West London, and we still enjoy fruit
Q&A with Scot Bendall
Can you start off by telling us a bit about La Boca?
We formed the studio in 2002 but for many years we only worked within the film and music industries. We’ve always tried to keep the studio small in size (but big on outlook!), which enables us to take on projects that we actually enjoy rather than being forced to for financial reasons alone. We try to work as a studio set-up rather than taking on projects individually, so mostly a project would have 2 or 3 pairs of hands on it at some point.
Could you share a few details about your careers as a designers/artists?
Oh, we’re definitely designers, I would never classify what we do as being art 😉
We mostly followed the usual path of attending art school to study graphic design before working at various studios. My personal route was through the music industry as I had always wanted to design record covers from a young age. I would classify us as graphic designers who illustrate (rather than the other way around), as our backgrounds are very much in traditional graphic design, not art or illustration.
Where do you draw inspiration from when you set out to design a piece?
I’m a firm believer that the answer to every project is usually found within the brief. If you look hard enough it usually finds you.
Could you give us a brief overview of how you plan/approach a cover design?
Connected to the previous question, the first step would always be to read the manuscript if possible. It sounds obvious but it’s not always available or possible to read, especially for new books. Then pay attention to what’s outlined in the brief and how the publisher wants to present the book to the reader. It’s important to remember that it isn’t your own interpretation, but how the publisher/author wants the book to be perceived. We learnt this lesson from our days of designing record covers, which in many ways are quite a similar process. I see our role as being the visual connection between the artist/author and their audience.
Are there any artists or illustrators that you look up to or influence your work?
Oh, so many. We try to keep a very broad outlook, and can be influenced as much by architects or fashion designers as we can by painters or sculptors. It’s something that is in constant flux. However, my personal graphic design icon will always be Milton Glaser and the Push Pin studio.
Are you open to any sort of artistic project?
Yes 100%. The more unusual or strange the better. It’s very easy to get stuck within particular design specialities, but I try very hard to avoid that.
What sort of challenges do you face as an artist in the design/illustration industry?
The obvious answer is the financial challenge. Budgets seem to get lower and expenses seem to get higher. I think most designers come to the conclusion quite early in their careers that this isn’t an industry that will make you very rich.
Have you got any projects going on at the moment that you could give some insights on?
We’ve been hard at work on an interesting project to re-design the safety posters that appear on the London transport system. It’s about visualising iconic ,and important, messages like Mind The Gap into posters that attempt to grab the attention of the millions of people who walk past them daily. It’s really the epitome of a dream project for me.
Do you have a particular favourite Cover Art design you have done so far?
I guess my personal favourite would be the 3D cover we designed for the re-issue of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It’s always a challenge designing a new cover for a classic book, but we worked on it with the art director, Suzanne Dean (which is a treat in-itself), and she really had great vision on the direction the design should take. It was also the first time we’d tried to design a Stereoscopic image so it was quite fun sitting in 3D glasses for days at a time.
What is the best part about being an artist* in your opinion?
(* Designer 😉
For me it’s the opportunity to contribute to popular culture. To design objects that people hold in their hands and form connections with is quite a privilege.
When your not hard at work, is there a non-artistic hobby you like to do to let off steam?
Unfortunately most of my hobbies still connect back to work! Watching movies, reading books, listening to music. It sometimes feels like I really have no escape.
Have you recently read a book or article that you would recommend to me and the readers of this post?
I recently got around to reading No One Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda July. I loved it, it’s the exact amount of oddness I need in my life.
Thank you to Scot and La Boca for taking the time to tell what they are all about, and for contributing so much to the brilliant world of Cover Art. This series is really taking off and I am grateful for all of your support. Cover Art means the world to me for so many reasons, it captures my eye and stops me in my tracks on a daily basis. I am always amazed by the lengths that artists (and designers of course 🙂 go to elevate their work to the tone and atmosphere of a book. Thank you again for stopping by, come back soon!