Despite the shock value of the title, this book makes nuanced arguments as to why and how the climate movement must start to take offensive action. The initial brief was for the cover to evoke hard-hitting journalism while still feeling fairly elegant—to capture both the author’s anti-pacifist thesis and his beautifully written narrative prose. (As Andreas Malm writes, “Sabotage can be done softly, even gingerly.”)

The final cover is actually not that far off from a sketch I showed in the first round. Even though the contents of the book don’t literally outline how to blow up a pipeline, I drew inspiration from historical “how-to” guides and instruction pamphlets, which often used separate boxes to show each step in a process. I borrowed this visual language to create containers for a series of images, which took the pressure off needing to capture the nuances of Malm’s thesis with a single image. In earlier rounds, I used actual diagrams of pipelines within the frames, but I eventually moved toward more thematic imagery like natural landscapes and fences. The latter hints at property destruction, which Malm posits is the only route to revolutionary change. One obstacle I faced during this process was making the images feel visually harmonious even though they came from various sources. In the end, I traced and altered each image, creating a shared handmade quality. 

The vibrant red background signals an urgent call to action and hints at the warming planet. I set the type in a grotesque sans serif that I modified to have softer edges and an imperfect line quality to mimic the wood type on historical protest posters, and to match the style of the images. 

I’m drawn to book cover design because I like the balance of expression and problem-solving. Every cover needs to have legible type, stand out on a bookshelf, work at thumbnail size online, and capture the tone of the book — but the rest is open-ended, especially with art directors like Devin Washburn at No Ideas, who let me run with this cover. — Chantal Jahchan

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By Peter

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