Interview with: Ana Cosma, winner of the 2014 ABDA Best Tertiary Education Designed Book Award

Ana Cosma, designer, OUP ANZAna recently won the ABDA Best Tertiary Education Designed Book Award with her design for Oxford’s Second Opinion, fifth edition so we thought we would ask her to tell us about how she developed this winning design and what her inspirations were.


About Ana
Ana Cosma is a freelance graphic designer with a love for book design and incredibly hot cups of earl grey tea. A strong design foundation in advertising and branding enables her to communicate design ideas from a unique perspective. She draws inspiration from her costal surroundings, and when not designing, is chasing after her cheeky little boy.

Germov, OUPANZ, second opinion1. What was the brief for this design?
The brief emphasized the importance of conveying ‘the social’, that is, the social determinants and factors that impact our health for example images of social interaction, social contexts, urban environments, etc. The book comprises three key parts: social production, social construction and social organization of health, and the cover had to capture this breadth. It was also requested that the cover should not focus on one single area or topic of the book.

2. Where did you go for inspiration? Do you use a mood board to capture your ideas?
Before starting a cover design, I always like to see what other books are on the market that cover the same or similar subject matter. Once I’ve checked out the competition and know what imagery and concepts have already been used, I can start to get a better picture of the concepts I’d like to explore. In the initial design stage I create a mood board to help me visualize my ideas. The mood board is then presented to the in-house publishing team and together we decide what ideas are worth developing. Once clear areas for exploration have been defined and agreed on, the fun begins, and I start designing the cover artwork. My favourite sites for design inspiration are and

3. What is your process when developing a whole book design e.g. a cover and the text? Do you develop the cover design first and then the text design? Or do you work on them concurrently?
In the majority of cases the cover design is briefed well before the text design. I prefer this process, as once the cover is finalized, the text design just flows on with the same theme and tone. This in turn results in a cohesive design, where the two elements support each other to communicate the publisher’s intended message. The cover was briefed months before the text design, this was great, because we had ample time to finalize the cover, before the text design process started.

4. How many designs did you originally put forward to the publisher?
The cover designs went through three rounds of concepts, and it was the last, lucky thirteenth, cover that was approved. I was asked recently if it was worth going through so many covers variations, and looking back, I can say that each round of covers helped me and the publishing team better understand what direction the cover should take.

5. Did the design that was selected by the publisher go through many versions?
Once the cover concept was selected and the final artwork was created, the cover only went through minor changes after that point.

6. What was the reason the publisher decided on this particular design?
The cover design that was chosen in essence captures the books three main themes: social production; construction; and organization of health. It is always a challenge to design a cover that is made up of different elements, but the central image of the man’s profile, brings all of these themes together and creates an intriguing focal point.

7. How long was the design process from briefing to sign off of the cover and text design?
From the original cover brief to sending in the last round of the text design files in-house the process, from my end, took approximately five months.

8. What did you feel when you were told you had won the award?
To be honest, I was really excited to make the awards shortlist. Seeing my name listed alongside Sue Dani and Regine Abos, both of whom are such fantastic designers, was an honour in itself. Winning the award and being acknowledged by my peers is a wonderful encouragement to keep challenging myself as a designer.

To find out more about ABDA and the other 2014 winners, as well as the shortlisted titles, click here.

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