Often times an idea for a design starts with an inspiration. That idea then gets tweaked and worked until sometimes it ends up different from where it began, but hopefully more polished. It’s not unlike writing. An inspired scene gets committed to paper, several drafts and edits later it becomes a much better version of itself.
The basic idea for the Mistaken cover began as a way to show the interconnections between the key players in the cast of characters. As the title implies, mistaken impressions abound and it goes in several directions. I pictured it in the form of a diagram much like those from chemistry showing the elements that make up a substance, except with pictures instead of elements.
It would be a modern design, but using Regency portraits would make it clear in what era the story was set. Something about the geometry of the diagram also leaned toward Regency era art. During that time period, there was a huge artistic shift from the overly fancy and complex Baroque era to the simplified, mathematical, geometrical, and symmetrical Neoclassic style. The proponents of Neoclassicism sought inspiration from the Classic Greco-Roman era to reinvent it for their times. In architecture, think of a symmetrical facade with straight columns, and basic geometric shapes (rectangles, squares, triangles, and semi-circles).
This could be Darcy’s London townhouse. I’ve often imagined Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet as young people of their times who appreciated the simplicity and beauty of the Neoclassical style. Lady Catherine de Bourgh, on the other hand, must have been stuck in the past of her youth. The Baroque era sounds like her thing from the impressions we get of her overdone home with it’s massive chimney piece. When she arrived at Pemberley, “Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine; with less of splendor, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings.”
The geometry and symmetry of the Neoclassical pervaded all forms of art and design, which even in it’s fancier manifestations kept to its mathematically perfect shapes and lines. In keeping with the reinvention of the Classic style, those triangles, squares, and circles evolved into diamonds and ovals.
So, what better way to visually underline the Regency flavor of the story by turning the geometry of science into geometry of the appropriate art period? Rather than the organic form of chemistry, this web of intrigue took the well-delineated form of art reinterpreted as a modern cover design. And that, my friends is how chemistry, geometry, and mathematical perfection led to the artistic rendition of the Mistaken cover.
Mistaken, by Jessie Lewis is due out soon from Meryton Press.