Q & A with Amy Daoud


Amy Daoud is one of two designers shortlisted in the Young Designer of the Year category for the Australian Book Design Awards 2016Recent winners of this prize include Alissa Dinallo (2015), Kirby Armstrong (2014) and Evi O (2013).

Before the winner is announced on Friday 13 May at Shebeen in Melbourne, we wanted to get know more about Amy and her work.

How did you end up in book design? Was it an early ambition?
I went straight to university after high school to study Visual Communication, which was a no-brainer as I knew I wanted to be in the design field. However, my passion for book design didn’t really flourish until third year. I became particularly drawn to children’s books and ended up creating one for my final year project, which consolidated my love for book design. While I spent time in multidisciplinary design studios after graduating, my attachment to books remained and I jumped at a design job opening at Walker Books, which I was fortunate enough to land.

Which was the first book cover you designed?
Charlotte Calder’s junior fiction novel The Ghost at the Point was one of my first projects when I started at Walker in 2011. I compiled the cover using a combination of stock imagery and a small, self-illustrated map.


What project has been your favourite so far?
I’m so lucky to be able to work across a diverse range of genres, but I do have a soft spot for mystic, beautifully dark, wonderfully weird stories. Lee Battersby’s Magrit falls into that category. I became completely lost in the world Lee created, so it was thrilling to illustrate and design the cover, as well as the interior. The cherry on top of the cake came in the form of bright yellow endpapers and lilac tinted edges.


Which specific designs have inspired or influenced you?
Oliver Jeffers was key in cementing my love for children’s books. His mixed media approach, hand lettering and sense of composition continue to inspire me. In terms of adult fiction, I love anything Peter Mendelsund does and David Pearson’s take on George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is probably my favourite cover of all time. I also believe Australia produces some of the most amazing fiction covers and illustrated books in the world.

Beyond book design, where do you find inspiration?
When it comes to fiction projects, I am very much inspired by the characters and worlds created by authors. Generally speaking though, I find inspiration in music, film, fashion, pop culture and art. I try to visit art galleries and see exhibitions as much as possible as seeing work in the flesh is often very affecting, in the best way possible.

What are the challenges facing a young designer today? What advice do you have for those still studying?
The digital era is wonderful but it means we are rapidly overloaded with visuals, so not only is it becoming harder to stand out, but it’s difficult to remain creatively honest and original. And while my advice would be to stay true to your creative self, it’s also important to know how to adapt to varying briefs and specific marketing needs. I think it’s important to have projects that are genuinely fulfilling and inspiring. This often means being creatively active outside of typical business hours, although I’m not sure design has ever been a nine-to-five profession.

Do you think book design will change much over the next 10-20-30 years? Will you still be designing books?
I think the notion that books require a face or brand will not change, but the form in which that takes might. Today we design for the shelf as well screens, big and small, so who knows what other platforms will eventually come into play. I do hope to still be designing books, though. Giving a story a visual identity is a very special and rewarding thing.



Learn more about Amy Daoud

Last week we spoke to the other designer shortlisted for this year’s Young Designer of the Year Award, Murray Batten.