By Tehillah Mwenya
The white Apple pen danced feverishly across the iPad as her ideas tumbled out of her brain and onto the screen. Isabel Dennis started Graphic Design for the first time in Fall 2021 with no prior formal digital editing experience or knowledge. Walking into Mr. Wright’s class for the first time on August 31, she had no idea that just a few months later, she would be designing a book cover for a professional writer.
“I was kind of in shock, honestly,” said Isabel, “because I have only been doing graphic design since September when we started school and generally my artistic abilities are more drawn to drawing and sketching and not towards using Photoshop. I had never used it before September so being asked to do this massive project right when I start is a pretty big deal to have the opportunity because this is just going to kickstart my actual career in graphic design.”
The book, Elusive Jewels, tells of the personal trials of the author, Odelaisy Senior, as she lived under an oppressive government in Cuba. Senior wanted to share her story of trial and triumph with the rest of the world. Isabel’s mom, who had edited some of Senior’s other books, was the reason Isabel landed the job in the first place. “My mom was friends with her and my mom’s the editor and has edited multiple of her books. So, my mom was talking with her about how I’m taking Graphic Design here at EC and my mom showed her some of my work because they’re friends and that’s what moms do. I was then asked to just practice with doing a book cover for her and I didn’t actually think it was going to be the actual cover. And then she approached me again and pretty much said, ‘I really like what you did to practice, let’s just do a few drafts for the actual cover’ and it was pretty simple,” Isabel said.
The cover, a coconut with the Cuban flag inside set to a light blue background, surprisingly only took three drafts to make. Isabel explained, “I personally only did three [drafts] because we kind of got the idea thrown out there that she wanted coconuts on the cover. So we kind of got the first cover just had coconuts and the title and her name and that was pretty simple. And then, we pushed it a little further cause the title is elusive jewels so we put little clip art images of jewels around the coconuts. And then for the last one, we decided to pull the [Cuban] flag into it and then she really loved that one because it ties in everything that she wanted the book to show. So, it was only three drafts, usually it would be a lot more, but we were on the same page the whole time.”
When asked how the cover represents Senior and her story, Isabel said, “It really just represents who she is and then at the same time if you look at Cuba you might not see everything that’s going on, which shows [the oppression that they’ve been going through] but then showing something that they’re proud of such as their flag.”
Isabel plans to continue to pursue her career in graphic design, driving her inspiration from her mother. “She went to art school for high school and she was a minor in art because she went to a Bible college, so she majored in Bible… she’s always been pushing me and my art and my abilities.”