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Open Pit

Open Pit is a political thriller dealing with two clashing cultures and the costs of doing business in the era of globalization. A group of Canadian human-rights activists visiting Central America are taken hostage by a former revolutionary fighter demanding the closure of a newly-minted open-pit gold mine.

The client asked for a cover that hints at international intrigue and adventure without looking too much like a Tom Clancy novel. Matt Taylor’s intimidatingly good illustrations for the latest John Le Carré novels were cited. Ideas tossed around included Salvadorian soldier portraits, Castro-esque figures attired in fatigues, AK-47 memorabilia, and a mock twentieth-century advertisement for South American tourism. The retro poster seemed like a good way to portray the action-packed foreign setting without showing scenes of violence or environmental devastation caused by mining. Because the publisher is located in Alberta, an ecological approach could cause the book to be incorrectly lumped in with diatribes against the oilsands.

I mocked-up a sunny Cuban travel brochure trying to attract visitors (or, in this case, readers) oblivious to the unrest of the region. The image started out at Post-it sketch. Most covers are inaugurated on 3 x 5″ sticky notes, which then end up attached to various pieces of office furniture and sometimes socks. (The plane morphed into a more plot-relevant helicopter and the dynamite just didn’t make the cut.)