Talking with Design Intern Skye Perez

At Texas Tech University Press, we have undergraduate student interns and graduate student assistants. We wanted to give them a chance to introduce themselves and to talk about their work at the Press.

Can you give a little bit of basics about yourself? Standard introductory stuff: name, year in school, major, interests, future plans?

My name is Skye Perez, I’m a senior in the graphic design program at Tech, and I’m looking forward to earning my degree in 2023! I’m a bit of a nerd, and my interests include reading, sewing on occasion, writing letters to my friends, and finding new music to add to my ever-expanding playlists (my current favorites are The Band Camino and Stray Kids).

What drew you to spend some time learning about publishing?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been absolutely obsessed with books and everything associated with them, and anytime I would visit the library, I found myself drawn to certain types of covers. I wanted to know more about how someone had created the art featured, how they had made those decisions, and what had inspired their choices, so when it came time to choose a focus for my design, book design and publishing felt like a natural direction to go in.

As part of your internship, you sat in on a bunch of all-staff meetings featuring a lot of very basic publishing stuff—deliberating about titles, discussing tricky proofreads, reviewing contract negotiations. You saw a lot! I wonder if anything struck you as particularly weird or interesting.

Titles meetings were never dull, with all the various author antics that seemed to come up, but a personal favorite of mine was the handwritten index delivered on several sheets of notepad paper. Whatever works, I suppose!

[Editor’s note: Authors, please don’t do this.]

As part of your work with us, you went into our backlist and redesigned an old cover. Can you just walk us through your process with this? How did you approach the task?

First, I started by searching through to find a book whose cover I felt I could significantly improve on, and one with a subject matter that inspired me. Once I chose Unaccustomed Mercy, I started by listing out every visual cue that came to mind as I read more about the content. Then came a few (quick and messy) preliminary sketches before I started searching for imagery that worked with my concepts. Once I had my first ideas down in Illustrator, I sent them to TTUP designer Hannah Gaskamp for feedback and critique. From there I went back and forth, trying new things and implementing changes suggested to me before sending them back again. The process was really fun and supportive the whole way through, and having another person to help me catch things or see something in a new way is one of my favorite ways to work!

And do you mind sharing the artist’s statement that goes with the cover?

I wanted to focus on the interesting dichotomy between poetry and war, and the type of imagery that comes to mind when hearing those words. I combined the pastoral images typically associated with poetry (a photograph of a serene Vietnamese forest view) with the harsh reality of the war these soldiers were experiencing (the image of a large napalm explosion). I also incorporated imagery associated with the actual writing process, using a typewriter-inspired typeface and a series of lines akin to lines of poetry to reveal the image beneath.

To see Skye’s work, you can check out their design website or follow them on Instagram.