Joey Hi-Fi is the alter-ego of award-winning illustrator and designer, Dale Halvorsen. Although he enjoys working on (and impresses with) a variety of projects ranging from editorial illustration to comics to packaging, his speciality is book cover design.
Having made the decision to follow in the hallowed footsteps of his creative role models (Chip Kidd, gray 318) by trying his hand at book cover design, Joey Hi-Fi gets to indulge his two passions – design and illustration – at once. He says, “Despite what some may think, you literally CAN judge a book by its cover. Which is just as well – or I’d be out of job.”
He let us know about his early influences and current style, “I grew up on a steady diet of comic books. Most notable 2000AD with its generally stark black & white brush/pen and ink style. Which I tried to replicate growing up. I think that is why even now I’m more comfortable with limited colour palettes for most of my work. Generally I find it difficult to describe my illustration style. It’s a Frankenstein Monster of sorts (I am quite fond of shouting ‘It’s alive!’ on completion of a book cover design or illustration). My work sometimes takes the form of an eclectic ‘illustrated collage’. I enjoy working in a range of styles and enjoy trying different techniques. Which for book covers are either determined by the tone of the book or direction from the publisher.”
Joey predominantly uses illustration as opposed to photography for his book cover commissions as he finds it easier to capture the tone of the novel. It also helps him to create something unique.
One of the reasons Joey most enjoys designing book covers is interpreting the writers’ ideas visually to accurately communicate the tone and concept of the novel. A task he takes very seriously by insisting on reading the book before he starts. Besides the perk of an exclusive read before the books are published, he says, “I think as a book cover designer it is important to fully understand the source material. It also helps me determine the tone of the book.” And adds, “With great writing comes great responsibility. Putting a ‘visual face’ on another creative’s work is, for me, a great responsibility. Writers can spend a year – or years – crafting their creative labours of love. At the very least their novel deserves a half-decent cover. Something to give it an edge in the no holds barred Thunderdome that is the publishing industry.”
While reading a novel he has been briefed to cover, Joey makes extensive notes as any of these jottings could become the idea for the cover. For his cover design of the South African edition of The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, which included the limited edition hardcover, he had access to a treasure trove of photographs Lauren had taken while doing research for the novel in Chicago, USA.
Other recent covers he has completed include Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig, both the UK and local covers for science fiction/fantasy book Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human, and the hardcover and paperback covers for the Sci-Fi anthology The Lowest Heaven .
For The Lowest Heaven he also got to design and illustrate a fold-out map of our solar system, inspired by stories in the book.
Currently Joey is working on covers for two books by Nigerian author Nnedi Okorafor, a new cover for Chuck Wendig and one for Kieran Shea’s debut novel ‘Koko Takes A Holiday’ for Titan books. All while working on a graphic novel which will thus only be due for release in 2040 after the great cyborg-cephalopod and zombie-unicorn war, of course.