African Book Cover Designers: Victor Ehikhamenor

by - 14:08

By now it should be no secret that I love book covers. I've always been interested in the design of book covers, and over the past few years I've become more and more fascinated by those behind designing the book covers. Honestly, if I could go back in time I would probably do my PhD on the art of African book covers. Alas, I did not. 

I do believe a book cover is important - obviously it won't change the content of a book. A well designed book cover will not make a bad book great. The same way a boring book cover does not necessarily mean the book itself will be terrible. 

Still I believe that book cover design is an art, a beautiful art and it takes such an amazing (and enviable) skill to be able to convey the sense of the story.

There are so many beautiful African book covers out there, and the book covers in this post come from Victor Ehikhamenor, a Nigerian visual artist, photographer and writer.

Victor Ehikhamenor and Chimamnda Ngozi Adichie via BellaNaija

His art - in which 'many aspects of Nigeria's complex folklore, mythology and religious iconography ... together with the country's political narratives past and present' can be found - has been used for books covers of authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Helon Habila, Tony Kan, Lola Shoneyin, Chika Unigwe and many more. According to Ehikhamenor, he has 'designed more than 25 book covers or supplied art for covers for both local and international publishers'. 

On how he goes about designing covers

"It is a collaboration between the writer, the publisher and the cover designer. It is not autocratic, it is democratic to a large extent ... The concept can come from the writer or the publisher, then I visualise and actualise. Other times, it is just me and my team. But first, I read the book. I have to know what the book is saying ... Some covers you can design and say let me do it for beauty sake but sometimes you have to battle with publishers because they might have a different agenda".

Looking through his paintings on his website, I can see clearly some of his artwork in many of these book covers. 

A look at some of Ehikanemor's paintings via his website

Ehikhanemor once said his 'works are a menagerie of different things, a representative of magical realism'. Of his paintings he said they 'are a story - folktales, myths, mystery, history and many more'. Reading that and seeing his artwork, it is clear why he has designed so many African book covers because in his own words he 'paint[s] with so much zeal, like a frenzied storyteller'.

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