“Cathedral” Vintage Contemporaries


Popular book cover series that resulted in over 100 covers.

In 1983, Louie was hired by Judith Loeser, an art director at Random House, to design a new imprint of quality paperbacks the publisher was launching called Vintage Contemporaries. An editor named Gary Fisketjon had been given the brief of publishing literary fiction—reprints and original, never-before-published books—in a trade-paperback format, distinct from the mass-market paperbacks in which most fiction was reprinted. Fisketjon and Loeser wanted the books to look like a series, and to look different from other books. In those days, “covers simply weren’t a priority,” Fisketjon said in an interview with the blog Talking Covers, “or else were subject to mediocre taste or none at all.”



In that post on Talking Covers, Sean Manning’s terrific (and sadly defunct) book-design blog, you can see the progression of Louie’s designs for Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral,” one of the seven titles slated for Vintage Contemporaries’ launch. With each successive draft, her design got less fussy, more eye-catching—and more totally unusual. By the end, she had distilled something of her era into a single design, one that was reproducible, stylish, and like nothing else on the market.