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Cover to cover: Book jackets for memoirs not yet written

By Kate Tenenhouse on May 17, 2016


If you were to write a memoir about your life up to this point, what would it be called? Think about it for a second.

That’s the question Ottawa designer Steve St. Pierre asked the Internet for his passion project

St. Pierre works as an art director for the Ottawa brand agency, McMillan.

(Small world story and disclaimer: turns out my dad – a creative director in Toronto – gave St. Pierre one of his first internships about 10 years ago. St. Pierre has also worked with Apt613 in the past on Support Local.)

He started the side project in March “on a whim” and since then, the project has become a bit of social media firestorm.

When St. Pierre first put out the call for hypothetical memoir titles on Facebook and Twitter, he received a little over 100 responses. With the submission form on the website and some media attention, he reached around 360. When BuzzFeed caught wind of the project in April, St. Pierre received close to 800 title ideas.

“BuzzFeed covered the project and submissions just got out of hand. My phone started blowing up… The submission form broke half way through, so I had to start a new one,” St. Pierre says in a phone interview.

He’s completed more than 130 covers so far, but plans to create about 1000 in total.

“What I love about book jackets and book covers is the charm. It’s the idea that someone has gone through and unearthed a little bit of a nugget from within the story and placed it as a little bit of a clue as to what the book is about on the front of the book and that’s my favourite part,” he says.

When St. Pierre is designing a cover, he’ll draw up some thumbnail sketches, maybe do some image searches, but he says there’s one key thing he tries to keep in mind.

“The biggest thing for me is to try to tackle these covers in unexpected ways,” he says. “As a designer, you don’t like to go for the low hanging fruit necessarily, you don’t want to go for what’s obvious.”

It’s a way for him to keep exercising his “creative muscles,” he says. “It challenges my brain on a daily basis and I get to do what I love and put these things out into the world every single day.”

St. Pierre says he is saving his own book jacket design for last, though he has a title in mind (I won’t spoil it for you). However, he says he doesn’t plan on writing it.

“A memoir, maybe not, but some kind of design-related book, I would like to (write) at some point in my life, for sure.”

Did you think of a title yet? Maybe, you asked a friend what they think? St. Pierre says he likes that his idea is sparking conversation.

“I didn’t expect that to happen. I think that’s been the most interesting part of it – the fact that people are taking time in their groups of friends to think about this little project that I started,” he says.

For more book jackets, check out the website at or follow St. Pierre on Twitter or Instagram @SteveStP.