Lewis Agrell / The Agrell Group, Inc.
Full-time contract/freelance designer
Annual salary range/hourly pay rate?
Can you define the duties of a cover designer? What does your day look like?
The cover designer needs to have a great imagination. Also, the cover designer needs to keep up with the trends in book cover design – particularly font usage.
My typical day: I normally get to my iMac by 6:00 a.m.; there are days like today when I’m at my computer around 5:00 a.m. Check out my email to see if there are new assignments, or edits to current projects. Re-check my email regularly throughout the day. I will work until about 10:00 or 11:00 and then take a half hour to an hour break. Then I typically work until around 3:00, when my eyes are shot from staring at the computer screen for 8 or 9 hours. If I am really pressed with assignments I will push myself to work until 4:00 or 4:30, but rarely until 5:00. Then it is TV time until 9:30, when I often jump back on the computer for a half hour to an hour to wrap up various projects.
What sort of training/education did you receive?
I was an art major at the University of Minnesota; but most of my training was on-the-job. First job: working on a tourist publication creating ads; next job: Art director for a city magazine: Next job: Chief Artist for the New York Times largest regional newspaper for ten years; Left that job and started my own freelance business: The Agrell Group – which is where I stand today.
What’s a recent project you worked on?
I just completed a book cover for Raphael Israeli (who lives in Israel), who has written more than 100 books. This cover design was a real challenge because of its incendiary topic: The Hamas attack on Israel on October 7th. I created four samples for the author, but they were missing the mark. Finally, I realized that all that was needed was to make the title of the book the most prominent element, and placed a silhouette of an automatic weapon in the background on a red field
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I have always, as long as I can remember, desired one thing – to have a job that is creative. That’s what a career in design is … endless creativity.
What’s something someone wanting to get into your career field should know?
There are incredibly talented people in this field, and design schools are sending out hundreds, or thousands more every year. So, it’s not easy to compete. So my advice is to simply do your best, and strive to be better.
Are there any resources for breaking into the industry or internship opportunities you’re aware of that you can share?
I know that publishing houses in major cities offer internships. That’s a great way to break into the business. You get experience, and you also are in contact with people who are at the top of their game. You can’t beat that.