Travel book design for Rum & Reggae Guidebooks

Rum & Reggae's Caribbean Page from Rum & Reggae style guide
Page from Rum & Reggae style guide Page from Rum & Reggae style guide

Back in 1999 a designer friend of mine referred me to Rum & Reggae Guidebooks. At the time, R&R wanted to redesign their travel books focusing on countries with beaches. Their attitude was their brand: irreverent, witty, and informative.

I worked closely with author and editor Jonathan Runge. We went back and forth through several design approaches and in the end settled on a design with typography that rests on energetic and sophisticated Scala and bold and edgy Journal.

I developed a vocabulary of icons to aid readability and findability of the minutia of the restaurants and accommodations. I also developed a coding system for R&R to use on the editorial side. They provided styled Word docs with codes for icons. I translated the files with Torquemada and imported to Quark Xpress. The system reduced the cost of composition.

The books are graced by illustrations by Eric Orner. My favorite covers from the series have his vibrant and whimsical art.

When the economy crashed, R&R was hit hard, and like many businesses, and our work of 10 years together ended. I’m still dreaming of visiting the places in those guidebooks . . .


Favorite covers

This week I had a birthday, and it is way past time to get this project going. I spent a few hours today dearchiving and pdf-ing and now have folder of portfolio images

This blog post, I’ll pick my favorites — covers that please my eye. All are covers done for Copper Canyon Press over about 1998 to present.

As Earth Begins to End by Patricia Goedicke The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin
In the Next Galaxy by Ruth Stone Book cover of Lao-Tzu's Taoteching translated by Red Pine, Copper Canyon Press
The Insomniac Liar of Topo by Norman Dubie One With Others by C.D. Wright
Of This World by Joseph Stroud Transparence of the World by Jean Follain, translated by W.S. Merwin

I showed my portfolio once and asked the art director her impression. She said “your covers are kind of quiet.” In the case of these covers for my longtime client Copper Canyon Press, that quiet is probably an intersection of my taste and Copper Canyon Press’s usual presentation of a strong image with understated typography.

I’ll talk more about these covers in future posts.

I welcome comments.