Book Cover Fun: Picking an Image to Represent A Whole Lifestyle

As some of you know, I’ve been slowly chipping away writing a book on Punk Style for Berg Publishers. Well it has come time to choose images for the cover, which I thought would be a daunting task but has turned out quite fun.

The real challenge has been that the book is part of a series, so the basic cover design is predetermined, and includes only one spot for an image which is rather small, and in black and white.

I’ve been working with them to brainstorm the nucleus of punk style, so it can be recognized instantly from a solitary image the size of a large postage stamp. We’ve had some logical and out-there choices to work with, and thankfully I’m really on a similar page to their marketing and design team.

This has been a fascinating exercise in thinking about design and fashion, as it’s been all about symbolism and how one cue can signify not only the 250 pages of text but really an entire people who you’re trying to represent. Many of us don’t really want to see ourselves that way, as someone who can be pinpointed so easily, and who’s ideologies and lifestyles can be boiled down to one garment. But, for something like book design, it’s precisely that. And of course, we all know it’s really more than book design where that is the way people think.

So I’m curious..without saying more….what images do you think would represent punk in a slam dunk way? Where it’d be able to be identified without question? We’ve already picked something, but it’s not a done deal, and I’m wondering what your ideas are.

On a related note, I’d be curious in the comments to also read what image or garment you feel could represent you or a culture you’re a part of with such instant recognition?

Image if from HubPages-Thanx!

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  • Christian Hernandez June 05, 2011 12.42 am

    “what images do you think would represent punk in a slam dunk way?”: Something similar to the photo used in the blog, although I personally would like to see something complimenting it. perhaps a male and female who embody the punk esthetic described in your book. If more than two people/figures are on the cover, maybe they can present two different facets of the culture.

    “what image or garment you feel could represent you or a culture you’re a part of with such instant recognition?”: Being part of the bear community I think facial hair on a slightly larger face. Being someone very interested in body modification stretched earlobes (common enough to be recognizable, not as common as other facial piercings. Being a student pursuing a MA in Fashion and Textiles Studies, perhaps something nerdy-chic like glasses and a pencil behind the ear.

  • Monica Sklar June 06, 2011 11.19 am

    Hi Christian. Thank you for your insight. It looks like I won’t be able to use images of multiple people as the size allotted is very small, about a postage stamp, so I’ve narrowed in on some iconic looking garments that can be instantly thought of as punk, and would fit in the spot. Spikes, etc.

    Good info on the Bear style. Is there a book or at least academic journal article out there? There could be as the style is quite recognizable and anyone I’ve known who is part of that community uses dress in very specific ways to communicate identity. Would make for good reading.


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Available now: Punk Style by Worn Through founder, Monica Sklar, PhD. Find it at :, Powell's Books, or a bookseller near you.