So an unexpected but very welcome message from my publisher a while back was a query to see if I’d be interested in doing the cover for my forthcoming book. Of course, the answer was a very definite yes! (I knew that publishers often want to control that aspect of a book themselves, and while some time ago I made a deliberately vague suggestion about what I thought the cover might be like, I was careful not to try to insert myself into that aspect of production, so this was a genuine surprise.) I’m focusing on physics research during this part of my sabbatical, so this would have to be primarily an “after hours” sort of operation, but should not take long since I had a clear idea of what to do. I worked up two or three versions of an idea and sent it along to see that they liked where I was going and once they picked one (happily, the one I liked most) I set it aside as a thing to work on once I got finished with a paper (see last post) and the (prep for as well as the actual) trip East to give a physics colloquium (see the post I never got around to doing about that trip).
Then I had terrible delays on the way back that cost me the better part of an extra day getting back. So I worked up some of the nearly final art and layout ideas in various airports and on the plane (I had both my laptop and iPad+pencil, so I could use them in conjunction to do what I needed), and then left the rest until I got home (well after midnight). But I was running late on this, and so was getting uncomfortable.
The next day saw me on my way back to the airport to pick up some visiting relatives, and there was another delay again, and I had a couple of hours on my hands and I was already on the road. So I diverted to Santa Monica to an art supply store I like there, picked up some supplies for something I wanted to try, and drove to the seaside, parked, and spent 20 minutes doing some work for the cover. I was not sure whether pen or brush would be best for what I wanted to do so I did a bit of both, as you can see in the photo. With the breeze coming off the ocean it did not take long for these to dry on the walk back to the car… and off I went down the 1 highway to the airport. I was able to make short work of the rest of the cover when I finally sat down to it and incorporated this element. (When you see the final cover* you’ll understand how this fits into the whole scheme! But you’re welcome to guess, of course.)
*The book is to be released in October, but you will see the cover in the Fall 2017 Catalogue of MIT Press when it comes out soon.