Rising Up: A Cover Story

Posted: Wednesday, May 26, 2021


We love a good cover story! Alexa Love tells us a bit about her experience designing the cover for Rising Up: The Fight for Living Wage Work in Canada, and explains how different concepts evolved to create the final design.

How much did you know about the book Rising Up when you were given the cover project?

Given that the project was given to me during early Covid days, I had initially assumed the book was a guide to making your own sourdough. Just kidding. The editors always provide a clear description of the book and its selling points, so I had what I thought was a good sense of what the cover should portray.

Two mockups for Rising Up, including shopping themes. One shows red shopping baskets in a repeating pattern, the other shows a brightly lit grocery store.

First attempt: Covers around a "basic necessities" theme.


Were you given any photos or other materials to guide your design?

Sometimes I'll be shown other cover designs that the author and/or the press like the style of, but in this case there was no early input so I was given free rein. At times that can be a relief, and at times it can be challenging because you have no idea if you're on the right track. But that's part of my job - to present a range of ideas and styles and find the right track.

Can you explain the process of designing the cover? What parts were most challenging?

In this case the most challenging part was having free rein. Restrictions aren't always bad. Sometimes they can help guide or give a little structure. With this cover, I maybe got a little too conceptual on my first round and none of the designs ended up being the right fit. I had emphasized the living wage, basic needs (groceries, etc.) and frontline workers. After the first round, I was asked to try again but to focus on the fight for the living wage. It was suggested an image of a demonstration would better represent the book, and so I found one of a march that took place in Toronto. 


Two mockups for Rising Up, including activist themes. One shows a blue and green megaphone on a white backgropund; the other shows a red background with a fist holding a sign.

Second attempt: Covers around an "activism" theme.


Was this cover more or less challenging than your previous design work?

The same. The cover process is just that - a process. There's usually a lot of back and forth before we settle on a design. I don't take revisions personally, and I try not to get too attached to any one design because sometimes my favourite one doesn't end up being 'the one.' And that's okay because even if I feel I presented strong designs, the author and the editors are the ones who know the book inside and out. I always remind myself that if I wrote a book, you better believe I wouldn't settle for a cover that didn't feel right.

Final cover for Rising Up. A black and white photo of a march.

Final cover for Rising Up.

You’ve shared some of the previous designs. What was your original inspiration and how did it change between your first and final designs?

My original inspiration was the living wage. The empty grocery baskets represented being able (or not able) to attain the basic necessities. I incorporated groceries into a couple of the designs. Maybe I was just hungry at the time. No, I was really just testing the waters with different design approaches. For example, a more funky repetitive illustration of the grocery baskets vs. a photograph of a big box store that was a little more stark and depressing. It didn't matter, because the feedback was that the shopping and money made it a little too consumeristic. So that's when we took the protest/demonstration route. Overall, I'm happy with the final result and I really loved making this cover. 

Alexa Love is a freelance designer based in Vancouver, BC. Find her work at

Posted by Megan M.
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