One of the wonderful aspects of producing publications for university alumni centres on being able to celebrate the achievements of the alumni themselves. Famous alumni from the Art School include award-winning figure painter David Cobley, illustrator Norman Thelwell and artist Dominique Sutton among others. For Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) we worked with one such talented alumna, illustrator Charlotte Backhouse. After looking for an illustrator based in Liverpool, with a strong connection to the city, we noticed Charlotte’s eye-catching illustrative work for Unesco Liverpool and reached out to commission cover illustrations for our university publication.  

The Making of a Modern University celebrates the evolution of LJMU as a response to wider city revolutions, following a narrative intertwined with the history of the city and we felt that this book needed an illustrator that could represent this powerful connection. After receiving Charlotte’s initial sketches, we discussed a fully typographic cover and considered selected designs that centred on a typographic vision. After discussing further with the university and working closer with their team to tease out their favourite elements of the design presented, we grew the final cover design into a striking image that intertwines university and city, featuring the main buildings of each against a soft matte background that invites the reader to linger over the cover page before absorbing themselves in the internal pages.

Look at Charlotte’s early sketches.

Follow Charlotte on Twitter @charlottesophb

Design Process