Blessed Unrest is a non-fiction account of current popular activism. Paul Hawken, the author, essentially sets out to document everything that’s going right with grassroots and non-profit organizations committed to any and all forms of environmental, political, social and/or human rights advocacy in operation across the globe as opposed to what’s going wrong. It’s a roundly optimistic and impressive account. His thesis is that each individual group, be it a human rights organization, an anti-drug coalition, an environmentalist group, a trade policy monitor etc., are all part of a larger, sweeping movement that thrives on its lack of central, unified organization. It would sound like the insane rants of a university-landlocked hippie if the information wasn’t so compellingly and effectively presented. It’s presently in hardcover still, so it’s worth a look.
These cover comps were intended for the paperback version. Roseanne Serra, one of the art directors at Penguin, contacted me on a Friday needing covers to present for her meeting on Wednesday. This gave me just enough time to tear through the book and grind out some possibilities to have ready on the morning they were required. She gave specific direction to use exactly three photos in my layouts that would draw connections to the far reaching effects and goals of these various, unrelated organizations. She also added a caveat that once I provided comps conveying specifically that, then I could do whatever the hell else I wanted afterwards to see if it stuck. Color me joyous.
So, working backward, the above comp is what I submitted last. It’s intended to reference the big-idea-that-originated-on-a-diner-napkin suggestion with all the various groups and causes linked to one another without ever holding a center.
These next two are different riffs that I first provided Roseanne based on her initial direction:
The first one was put together making a conscious effort to use images in which all of the primary figures were in silhouette. The two photos of rows of people bookend an image of multiple propellers to suggest movement and progress happening in real time effecting current situations. In the second comp, the pictures were selected to underscore how different and far-reaching these developments are. Between factory recycling, human rights relief in Africa, and a single hand harvesting a plant, the cover implies that the book to follow will draw the thread that connects them all.
The author ultimately decided on keeping the paperback cover the same as the hardcover version, so these comps were killed after all that elbow grease. Nonetheless, it was flattering in no small respect to be working on such a bold, uniformly positive account of social unrest. How often do you hear from an activist who’s rants aren’t defeating themselves in your ear as they spew?