Big Magic

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Medium: Museo Portfolio Rag
More About This Edition:

+ This edition is part of a collaboration between 20x200 and Riverhead Books. Read more about the collaboration here!

Artist Statement


On creating the art for Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Creating a cover for a book about creativity itself is probably one of the most challenging projects that has come my way. How do you visually communicate inspiration and what it feels like to create something? After many cover ideas that I deemed just not dynamic enough, I understood that what I wanted was a cover that felt like it was exploding in color and energy. Holi powder seemed like the perfect medium. Holi is the Hindu spring festival where thousands of people gather and throw this colorful dust at each other. It is a sight to behold. Not only is the powder hyper colorful and gorgeous, it also made a lot of sense for Liz considering her connection to India and its culture. To capture this image, we built a set with the letters of the title cut out of wood and mounted on a backdrop and basically spent an entire day throwing the colored powder at it (and sometimes missing and getting each other) while Henry Hargreaves, the brilliant photographer, snapped high speed photos hoping to get that perfect moment. And here you have it! The image in my head come to life through planning and chance. Controlled chaos: The perfect metaphor to communicate what creativity feels like, at least for me. – Helen Yentus

About Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, and several other internationally bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction. Gilbert began her career writing for Harper’s Bazaar, Spin, the New York Times Magazine, and GQ, and was a three-time finalist for the National Magazine Award. Her story collection Pilgrims was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award; The Last American Man was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The follow-up memoir Committed became an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. Her latest novel, The Signature of All Things, was named a Best Book of 2013 by the New York Times, O Magazine, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the New Yorker. Gilbert’s short fiction has appeared in Esquire, One Story, and the Paris Review.


Riverhead Design Labs | See All Editions


Riverhead Design Labs is an experimental junction where art, books, and invention intersect. A wing of the award-winning publisher Riverhead Books, the Design Labs team brings an artistic touch and a maker sensibility to each and every book cover. They also fabricate cutting-edge literary materials, from 3D printed author heads to silk-bound special editions, from enormous outdoor murals to covetable tote bags. Their creations have won the Art Director’s Club Art + Craft award, the Type Directors Club Medal of Excellence, and many other prestigious prizes.

About Riverhead Books

Founded in 1994, Riverhead Books is now well established as a publisher of bestselling literary fiction and quality nonfiction. Throughout its history, Riverhead has been dedicated to publishing extraordinary groundbreaking, unique writers. Riverhead’s books and authors have won or been finalists for Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, National Book Critic Circle Awards, MacArthur Genius Awards, Hurston Wright Legacy Awards, Dayton Literary Peace Prizes, and numerous other distinctions.