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Cover to cover: Jennifer Lum on designing Tessa McWatt’s Higher Ed

Jennifer Lum uses a variety of illustrated images to capture the humorously frazzled quality of the characters in Tessa McWatt’s novel Higher Ed (Random House Canada)


1. The author’s previous book, Vital Signs, was about a marital crisis sparked by the wife’s life-threatening medical condition. This is quite a contrast to the humorous, stressed-out, and lovelorn tone of Higher Ed. I was initially inspired by an exchange between two characters involving a clownfish, the bright colours and distinct patterning of which seemed to embody the graphic aesthetic I was asked to produce. I zoomed in on one quadrant of the fish to create an abstract illustrated design.