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When you think about silhouettes in art and design, what’s the first image that pops into your head? Is it an 18th century portrait? A movie poster? (And is it the Scarface poster — that’s what comes to my mind at least) Are silhouettes too dull and uninteresting? Are they copouts to creating a multidimensional person or object?

Or does a silhouette make you want to shed more light on the person it belongs to?


After half an hour of prowling the entire internet (I wish I was kidding about that), I’ve finally discovered the artist responsible for the silhouetted Marcelo and Jasmine pictured above on the cover art for Marcelo in the Real World — the talented Dan McCarthy.

I’ll be honest — the cover art for Marcelo is what prompted me to journey to my local library last year and pick it up so I could see it in the wild. (I had initially seen it on Maggie Stiefvater’s Goodreads account where she sang its praises) I think what drew me in at first were the glimmering stars.

Then I zeroed in on those centered silhouettes. If you look at Dan’s website, you’ll see a lot of the same type of artwork — lots of silhouettes, trees, dark colors and serious tones. A feeling of wonder, curiosity, and a little bit of loneliness washes over me as I look at all of his pieces. But in regards to Marcelo’s design, the silhouettes create a story. The dark and light work so beautifully together – light words in the title font and bright twinkling stars are in harmony with the dark tree, tree house, landscape and telephone poles. Cover designer Christopher Stengel (of The Wolves of Mercy Falls cover art fame) uses the empty space below the earth and places the type in a way that makes this feel like an indie movie poster.

But what I love the most about this cover art is how genuine it is in illustrating Marcelo’s story. It perfectly captures the way you feel as you read this book from his point of view.

What about you? Is there a cover that you’ve loved even more after you read the novel because its face was an absolutely perfect representation of its story?

Bryan Williams