Cover Reveal: Interpreter of Winds

Early morning Saturday, we sat down with Elizabeth Lim to find out more about how the book cover of Interpreter of Winds came to be. We spoke about many things, the images we found ourselves returning to since childhood, the stories that we hold on to, dreams and anti-dreams… I’ll try and distil all of that into this blog post, as for what kind of artist she is, I’ll let her art speak for itself.

Mid conversation, we realised we both grew up with Enid Blyton’s stories. Rife with illustrations of magical creatures and surreal talking animals, Liz’s design style is very much influenced by the whimsicality of Blyton’s spirit. I see this in the cover design of Interpreter of Winds, where the camel and dog feature as silhouettes.

Automat (1927)

We also share a love for Edward Hopper’s solitary figures, and she shared that people have interpreted her illustrations very differently—some described them as lonely, others said it made them feel calm. She says that sometimes, illustrations create the space for people to place their own sentiments into the image. Are cover designs like that too? Now I wonder how you feel about the design of Interpreter of Winds.

Going into how the process of designing this particular cover is like, Liz’s playful personality emerged. Laughing, she confessed that the first draft is where she is the most daring and experimental, letting herself go in any direction she wishes. It is more about breadth than depth at this point, she says.

First drafts in which some elements made it to the final version

Of course, as with any collaborative process, there are conflicts and differing opinions. When we asked her how she navigates this, she shared that it is her gut she depends on to choose which battles to fight. Unless she feels strongly for an element, the author’s sentiments take precedence and she’s willing to kill her darlings if need be. The mood of the book cover is more important than the nitty gritty details, she says.

What she means by mood, is literally a moodboard where an overall sense of her thought process can be gleaned:

When asked how she would design a book cover if there were no limitations to its feasibility, she muses that it’d be cool if her final year project for NTU ADM about Trichotillomania could have a cover made of real human hair. For the cover to truly provide a window into the contents of the book it wraps around.

To end this blog post, I’ll share with you some tips that Liz gave to make the design process more joyful for everyone (you included, if you work with illustrators). Trust the illustrator, and do your homework. An illustrator is human too and has their own distinct style. So look through their portfolio to get a sense of how their visuals are, and don’t treat them as merely image-makers. Because they are not. Clear communication is key.

It is a relationship we are building, after all.

Interpreter of Winds is part of our orbit series. You can find Elizabeth’s work at and on Instagram @lizlimyl.