Michael Salu is the artistic director of Granta Publications where he works across the divisions of Granta and Portobello Books and Granta magazine. Having previously designed a range of covers for almost every reputable publishing house in Britain, Salu is intimately familiar with the challenge of creating an eye-catching cover with visual elements that draw in a reader and reflect the literary content. No stranger to feminine imagery, he first came on board with Granta in time to create the art for its Spring 2010 “Sex” issue, which resulted in the ever-popular “this-is-not-a-purse” cover and a related set of films inspired by the writing.
For Granta magazine’s issue 115, “The F Word,” which focuses on feminism, Salu was faced with the daunting task of developing a visual concept for a theme that explores the ways in which feminism continues to inform, address and complicate the balance of power between the sexes. Luckily, Salu is a self-described man “raised in a world of women.” Armed with his insider knowledge yet heeding Simone de Beauvoir’s warning that even “the most sympathetic of men never fully comprehend woman’s concreted situation,” Salu considered the current blueprint for beauty prescribed by popular media, such as Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar, with the intent being to create a female “DIY Identikit” magazine cover. The result is a comical combination of connect-the-dot cleavage and windswept hair that grazes the title. The tongue-in-cheek text that forms a pouting mouth is also clever. It’s another one to add to his growing arsenal of memorable cover art.
Granta Publications presents some nice online features where Salu discusses the making of “The F Word” cover and the selection of art chosen to complement the content, which includes the work of three moving-image artists’ individual responses to the stories in Granta 115.