Listening to Trees

Arboriculture art.

This book records a forester’s lifelong journey to salvage the world’s declining forests. A.K. Hellum speaks to our environment’s fragile state-of-being with stories from Thailand, China, Guyana, and the Philippines, where the forests have been stripped of their resources and improperly regenerated. 

The publisher and I agreed that we didn’t want to produce another environmental book with a picturesque photo of some evergreens on the front. Like the author, I wanted people to consider trees in a different way, to perceive them as fragile. Concentric growth rings work as a symbol of longevity, with the weighted line and tiny imperfections emphasizing how tenuous the existence of a forest really is.

I set out sketching the cross section and when I got to the outer ring I spontaneously incorporated the title and author name. After scanning it in and inverting the colours to increase the visual impact, the result is stark yet harmonious with Hellum’s personal style of drawing and documenting. The natural texture and off-white cover stock (recycled, of course) peer through the brown spot ink.

Even if I were responsible for pumping millions of gallons of oil into the ocean and wanted desperately to avoid any guilty feelings for my acts… I would still pick this cover up…
Jason Gabbert

Client: NeWest Press
Author: A.K. Hellum
Publication Date: September 2008
Awards: Winner of the 2009 Book Publishers Association of Alberta Award for Book Cover/Jacket Design