In the SWAGGbooks team of amazing women, here's Katie Gannon, graphic designer!
Many people think the illustrator and designer of a book are the same person – but usually they’re not! You’ve met the illustrator, Madison Fotti-Knowles. Now meet Katie Gannon, graphic designer.
Katie Gannon is the brilliant designer behind the full 19 book SWAGG franchise. Can you tell us a little about yourself, Katie?
I was born in Sydney, did my schooling in various places around Australia and when I finished my communications degree at university, I spent several years travelling the world. When I returned to Australia in my mid-20s, I started working in several fields including graphic, web and clothing design. I’ve always been a designer at heart, and I’ve been doing it for nearly 2 decades now.
This is the first time you’ve used your skills to design a book series; how have you found it? What did you find challenging?
Although I’ve worked on quite a few print magazines, I’ve never designed covers for a whole series of books! I absolutely loved creating themes and scenarios for each of the character illustrations. I felt like each book cover had to tell its own story, while also keeping the tone of the series as a whole.
Before SWAGG, you and Jill have only worked together professionally. How have you found working with Jill in a non-work environment, during the pandemic and lockdowns, and in an entirely different country?
I’ve worked with Jill for many years in different roles of organisations. It’s been amazing to work with her on a personal project. Not only is she super organised, creative, and full of ideas, she’s also very supportive when it comes to my own projects. Being in different countries or in lockdowns have never been an issue for us; we will usually talk via video calls a few times a week.
You have your own book coming out later in the year. Can you tell us a bit about it, and what you have found out about publishing?
Yes! I co-created an online portal for sustainable accommodation called Life Unhurried with my sister and a good friend of ours around 4 years ago. We combined our talents in our spare time to create YouTube videos, shoot photos and write stories about these special properties that we found and visited. We never imagined we’d get a book deal out of it, however after showing our work to one of the major publishers in Australia, they absolutely loved it and were keen to get started with us. It’s taken over a year to piece everything together into a 250-page coffee table book, with Covid lockdowns adding in whole new challenges, but it’s now about to go to print. “Slow Stays”, will be available in bookstores everywhere in September 2022!
Which books/authors were your favourite growing up? Who are your favourites now?
Growing up I loved Roald Dahl and I also loved the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books! I was a pretty basic reader. I don’t get a lot of time to read now, however, I do tend to read more memoirs and non-fiction books. Anything with an inspiring story behind it gets me excited! I especially love the works of Elizabeth Gilbert.
Out of all the SWAGG covers, did you have a favourite to design?
I don’t really have a favourite; I honestly love them all! Giving them all a branded look through colours, specific eye logos and crazy covers was heaps of fun.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I used to draw a lot of inspiration from other designers and creatives, but over the past few years I’ve found that most of my energy comes from getting out into nature. As I’m on my computer and social media quite a lot, I find the online world very crowded, repetitive and a bit contrived. I look for more pure and simple forms of inspiration now, such as the growth of a plant or the colour of an insect. It feels more real to me than most of what you see online.
What words of wisdom do you have for any aspiring graphic designers?
Learn everything! Graphic design entails so much more than just being creative. You must know the ins and outs of different programs, how to solve problems and you absolutely need to keep up with latest technology and online platforms. From social media channels to basic coding for websites, graphic design is closely applied to so many technical streams these days, so you need to keep an open mind, stay current and always keep learning.
(Note from Jill - these are a couple of my favourite of Katie's designs, although like Katie, I love them all too!)
All Jill's SWAGG books, designed by Katie in ebook, paperback and gorgeous hardback, are available from Amazon, ebook sellers and your local bookstore. Check them out at swaggbooks.com.
For all Jill's books including YA and adult novels, go to jillmarshallbooks.com