How Heinz Edelmann works

“So, how I work. Well, for book jackets, the pay is not so much, so I have to finish each one in an hour. I make a little sketch, the size of a postage stamp. I may make three or a dozen, no more than a few seconds each, to convince myself I have the idea. The sketch is intelligible only to me, but I know when I have it. From that, I set the type. I put German, the language that takes the most space, on the first layer, French on the next, English above that, then Dutch on the top layer, sometime Italian and Spanish, too. I do all this to keep as much time as I can for the illustrations. Next, I take my colors and work directly on the illustration board, where I can refer to the type overlay and see the picture and words in a relationship.

I like to read the book before starting, but usually I can’t, so I read the short write-up they send. I used to call the author and ask what their book really means. Some publishers get upset with that. So I get an idea of the subject, and I just ask, what would make someone curious enough to spend some money? You get them thinking, you know? They buy because something gets under their skin, and they are curious, so they say ‘All right,’ and pay.

I get in a period every few years where there is too much interference and I just fire them all, and go out and see some new people. The meddlers don’t call you back, but the good ones, they call you back and say, ‘OK, Heinz, we’ll do it your way, when can I get it?'”

— Heinz Edelmann