Black Hunger
Black Hunger
Black Hunger

Black Hunger

Brad Norr Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2004


The University of Minnesota approached me with the book Black Hunger, which dealt with race issues through the metaphor of soul food. They provided a photograph by Birney Imes that depicted two black women sitting in a Deep South café. The audience is academia, but also general trade.

As with any book cover, my approach was twofold: first, engage the viewer; second, communicate the content of the book. The photograph provided by the publisher was so striking, and so aptly communicated the feel of the book, that it needed to take up the whole cover. My only intent was to keep the type from interfering with that great image. As with most academic books, there was a subtitle; fortunately, this one wasn’t too long. The title was succinct as well.

The solution was to integrate the type into the photo, almost as if it were light cast on the café surfaces from the old jukebox, or an illuminated beer sign. But I didn’t want to Photoshop it so that it looked like it was actually coming from a source within the photo—in other words, not try so hard. The final effect is a sort of ghostliness that ties in with the blurred women and evokes the past events of this specific place, and the black experience in general.

Collections: 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2004
Repository: Denver Art Museum
Discipline: Book design
Format: Book cover


Design firm
Brad Norr Design
Creative director
Adam Grafa
Art director
Brad D. Norr
Brad D. Norr
Birney Imes
Production director
Dan Leary
Production artist
Brad D. Norr
Doris Witt
University of Minnesota Press
Trim size
5 7/8 x 9 inches
Eurostile, Univers (both customized), Vitrina
Edwards Brothers
Binding method