This book cover design/illustration for John Wain’s 1970 novel “A Winter in the Hills” was my course project at School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 2014.
“A Winter in the Hills” is a story of a middle-aged English philologist caught in the middle of a social and ethnic conflict in a small community in North Wales. Being involved in the struggle between the Welsh and the English, the rich and the poor, he (and the author himself) takes the side of “little people”, who are undoubtedly good as opposed to those bad ones that only think of stuffing their pockets. The whole book is thereby about the win of “good over evil”.
Wain evokes the atmosphere of the small villages and the landscape of northern Wales. While reading the book, one can feel the chilly weather in the Wales Mountains. I thought that the book cover for this story should show that scene of windy and rough hills. By the way, I’ve always loved winter mountain landscapes.
My approach may seem too plain, because it simply illustrates the main concepts of the book: the winter hills, the bus (the protagonist got a job on a local bus service), the snowy village, sheep on a pasture, etc. That said, my idea reflects the straightforwardness of the whole story, which, like a children’s book, is really enthralling, but unequivocal.
On the front cover of the book I decided to combine the contemporary outline of the bus (though it’s an old bus of 1960s) and the mythological creature from Welsh folklore. This retro bus is the symbol of the struggle of not-so-rich people, whose only way to survive is to keep their small business.
By making the design of both the dust jacket and the cover itself, I want to emphasize that it’s a kind of old-fashioned novel, so it may have a classic, and a bit outdated look.