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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Industry Insights: Caroline Young, Art Director at Hachette UK

This issue we spoke to Caroline Young, who is the Art Director at Hachette, about her experience of publishing outside of London and her current role.


How did you find moving from London to Newcastle from a career perspective? How was your work/life balance impacted by the move?


Moving from London to Newcastle hasn’t changed that much in terms of my career. The main difference is how I interact with colleagues as most of my communication with the team and the rest of the division is now virtual. I spend more time on calls now rather than sending lots of emails, as I find this a good way of retaining that face-to-face, spontaneous conversation that you get in the office environment. When working virtually, I think it’s all about being intentional and creative in the way you communicate in order for everyone to feel engaged and for us get to the best strategies for our books.


I’ve always strived to consider the widest possible talent pool when deciding to commission for a project, and my physical move to Newcastle has made me more aware of the creative talent in the North East and I’m excited to engage with this community more as time goes on. I lived in London for eight years and had a blast, but for the lifestyle I want to live now, it’s too expensive, too big and too busy for me. My work/life balance is the best it’s ever been; I have my dream job in my favourite city and it all feels harmonious.


You designed the incredible How To Kill Your Family cover, can you describe the process of brainstorming a cover concept through to reaching the final product?


I always start a new cover brief away from the computer screen. For me, most of the groundwork happens at this point as I’ll be generating ideas for which the whole cover and potentially the book’s campaign will be hung on. Idea generation for me comes from lots of rough sketches (that are indecipherable to anyone but me!), lists of relevant words, and lots of research.


Once I’m happy with a handful of ideas, I then move on to the computer and start creating visuals that I will share with the editor. If the editor is happy with the visuals (or an idea for which I’d commission a freelancer to bring alive) we take these through our covers meeting. Our covers meeting is where we – the design team – present designs to the wider company. If a visual is approved in the meeting, we either take it away to develop and refine, or if it’s ready to go, it will be shared with the author. We often share numerous ideas with the author as it’s important for them to be part of the journey and ultimately be happy with their book’s cover. At every stage, we get feedback from the editor and the wider teams, as well as often receiving feedback from booksellers. It’s a collaborative experience, and I love it.


Are there any online courses for designing that you would recommend for those starting out, and do you think it’s essential to have some of these under your belt in order to apply for an entry level design role? 


I find SkillShare really helpful for learning new creative skills but ultimately I think the most useful skills someone coming in at entry-level design (or any level to be honest) is the ability to think conceptually, push boundaries and a desire to constantly learn. I find it fascinating to hear of designers taking inspiration from sources that aren’t just book cover design – this is often from which the best designs come from.


We expect our designers to have an awareness of the Adobe Creative Suite (particularly Photoshop and InDesign) but you don’t need to be a master – this will soon come as we use these programmes every day! Specifically for design in publishing, a top candidate for me oozes a passion for books, thinks commercially about how we present our books to reach the widest possible audience, is adaptable and has bundles of ideas!

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