Lilja Cardew

Lilja Cardew's cover design of 'Diary of a Young Naturalist'

I kept coming back to the way the natural world around Dara was a grounding force for his anxiety. Lying in deep grass is soothing, at least to me. All the senses are heightened. The smell of the earth and grass. The rustling and crackling of the insects, yet intense silence rises from the soil. I relate to Dara’s attachment to nature, and the more I drew, the narrower the view became, until green grass represented the nuances, all too often overlooked that Dara writes about so beautifully.

Zofia Chamienia

Zofia Chamienia's cover design of 'Diary of a Young Naturalist'

Before designing the front cover for Diary of a Young Naturalist I read this book, to have a better understanding of its topic, and the style of Dara McAnulty’s writing. Inspired by it, I decided to keep my design in a diary / notebook aesthetic to make it consistent with the style of narration in the book. In order to achieve that, I used handwritten typography, both on the front and the back of the cover. I designed a set of collage-based, nature-related elements and placed them on the front cover in an imperfect way, almost as if they were collected and strewn around. I wanted them to appear in a way that seems disorganised, to emphasise how we should understand and observe the nature around us, and not try to organise and change it.

Ella Hunter

Ella Hunter's cover design of 'Diary of a Young Naturalist'

My concept for the book cover design was taken from Dara’s quote in the summer entry of the book “I often imagine a canopy of leaves above my head, protecting me from the world.” I wanted to capture this thought through my design. The foliage of the different coloured leaves represent nature and shaping them in a feminine shape like the circle shows how it shields, protecting Dara through each season, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. My concept behind choosing the butterfly is gathered from the term ‘metamorphosis’. In the book Dara grows and adapts throughout the year showing the importance of change.

Nancy Jackson

Nancy Jackson's cover design of 'Diary of a Young Naturalist'

The cover drawing stretches full bleed with a gentle intensity to mirror the tone of the book. A coil of negative space intersects the drawing to represent a diary, and visually equates the power of the external world and the internal thoughts of the author. The simple hand-written text matches the intimate and charming style of writing — while the cover remains almost overwhelmingly complex, echoing the challenges of the author’s mind.

Chloe Law

Chloe Law's cover design of 'Diary of a Young Naturalist'

When I was creating my design, I knew I wanted to include some of the wildlife that the author speaks about throughout the book. I felt that it was important to include wildlife on the front cover because of the author’s love of nature and how important it is to him. The blackbird, especially, was something that I knew I wanted to include on the cover, as it symbolised the author, something he talks about when saying his mum used to call him ‘lon dubh’, meaning ‘blackbird’ in Irish.

Ellen Nacey

Ellen Nacey's cover design of 'Diary of a Young Naturalist'

I drew upon multiple quotes within the book for my design. For example, ‘… an ocean of fertilised fields, the luminous greens, contrasting with the rugged mountain, and the patchwork of birch leaves in Dutch and orpiment orange.’ is vivid, evocative and beautiful. Dara’s words come alive off the page, and they felt natural to visualise. I adored how Dara wrote about shape, colour and form within nature. The cover comprises watercolour illustrations of natural elements, colour swatches and notes alongside a tree trunk ‘spine’. It is his observations that capture the magic of the outside world that make this cover what it is.

Annalie Pearson

Annalie Pearson's cover design of 'Diary of a Young Naturalist'

The book gives the reader an insight into how the natural world looks through Dara’s eyes, and I wanted to emulate this in my design. This motivated the idea to make binoculars central to the illustration. The personal journey Dara goes on from a childlike love of nature to a fierce determination to make a difference, played a key part in my design choices. I kept the overall style playful while the central composition of the illustration represents Dara’s unwavering focus on nature.

Grace Reeves

Grace Reeves's cover design of 'Diary of a Young Naturalist'

The idea behind this cover design is to reflect the text's nature of being a diary, using scribbled textures and handwriting. By combining this with imagery of ferns, dandelions, wild garlic and more, the cover aims to illustrate and emphasise the importance of nature within Dara’s life and diary entries, intertwining the natural imagery within the handwritten typography. The type is raw with each letter unique, using the imagery to create a sense of cohesion across the cover and reflect the author’s comfort in patterns and repetition.

Leo Watson

Leo Watson's cover design of 'Diary of a Young Naturalist'

Reading the book, I felt an overwhelming sense of connection. Dara’s writing, open in its diary format, reaches out to the reader. I wanted to channel that into the cover. I decided to explore a handmade style, flipping through 80s nature magazines to find photos to tear up and collage together. I think collaged textures and scribbly typography can often be more approachable than clean, polished work. Nature and the humanity we can explore in nature are not sanitised, and they don't need to be.

Kitty Wilcox

Kitty Wilcox's cover design of 'Diary of a Young Naturalist'

I wanted my design to evoke traditional woodcut illustrations; with their warm organic textures, unfussy line work and flat, folksy perspectives. I did little preparation and instead tried to create instinctively, hoping I could imbue a little of the naivety that made those woodcuts so charming. Dara’s writing is so rich, it felt only right to reflect this by filling my design with as much life as possible; animals, plants and fungi wherever you look. His writing shows a deep love for the natural world, and I hope I have expressed my own love for it through my creation.

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