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Evolution of a Book Cover (and the Tale of an #AccordionTattoo)

December 4, 2019

(This page has so many animations it looks like the web in 1991.)

Accordion Revolution’s book cover by Vancouver artist Michelle Clement was unveiled back in May. Michelle worked for months on the project with my crew of editors and me. You can see some of the changes from sketches to finished cover here:

Accordion Revolution book cover, many versions from line drawing to finished color art. All with woman and accordion. Her pose changes, her hair gets longer and billows out, and her skin goes from white to medium brown.
Accordion Revolution’s cover. The development process for “Rosie.”

“It should not be boring,” was my main goal for the cover (and the whole book). To appeal not just to folks who already liked accordions. I collected stacks of sample images from rock-band posters, record covers from all genres, and action-shots of accordionists in hair-flinging action. (See the bottom of this post for some of those images.)

Propaganda images began to draw our attention (as they’re intended to). And I gathered dozens, including the famous “Rosie the Riveter.” It was Michelle who added the name “Rosie” on the accordion grill as a sweet easter-egg.

“Rosie’s” flaming-heart tattoo was Peter Cocking‘s idea. Luckily a few years earlier I had started the #AccordionTattoo hashtag, gathering a collection of strong, brash squeezebox images. In the animated cover progression above, you can see where Rosie’s tattoo changed to a button accordion to balance the piano-keyboard she plays on the cover. At one very exciting design meeting I asked if we could use a version of the tattoo for interior decorations. Interior designer Taysia Louie added it on the book’s spine too. I liked it so much I learned how to animate it (and the cover thing above). Makes me laugh every time. (There’s a version where the “Accordion Revolution” text flashes too. Very web 1.0. 😂)

Graphic of a black button accordion, in front of a red heart, with animated orange and yellow flames emerging from the top. (The flames appear, rise, wiggle a bit, then sink down, only to repeat, over and over.)

Later I made a rubber-stamp of the “Flamey Accordion Heart” for book signings to make up for my illegible signature and difficulty doing long dedications due to a hand-tremor. The stamp-maker asked at the last minute, “What color do you want?” The sharp red stamp you’ll see on signed copies, and the overall awesome look of the book is thanks to savvy design input from many people like that.

Finally, for the book launch in June, we contributed to another hashtag by sharing some ice-cream #AccordionCake — harvest peach with graham crackers and raspberries!

Photo of a fancy (ice-cream) cake from above. It is rectangular with fluffy white icing trim on the sides. Imprinted on the center is the cover image of the Accordion Revolution book.

Historical and modern reference images that influenced “Rosie the Accordion Revolutionary.”

Animated slideshow of images that inspired the Accordion Revolution book's 'Rosie the Accordionist' cover. (Mostly women, WWII propaganda posters including several 'Rosie the Riveters,' and some wild-haired modern accordionists.
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