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Student wins design job from Czech publishers

by Larissa Petryca, on 18 August 2021 12:11:20 CEST

In early 2021, seventeen second year Graphic Design students had the opportunity to pitch a book cover concept, layout and promotional video to Czech publishing company Nakladatelstvi Akropolis. They chose Gesui Mirzo’s concept and the book is now printed and has been distributed to bookstores across the Czech Republic. We reached out to Gesui to hear all about the project and what inspired her cover design.

Hello Gesui. First of all, congratulations on this amazing project, and thank you so much for accepting our invitation to do this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thank you so much! My name is Gesui and I started studying at PCU two years ago, I just finished my second year in Graphic Design. Honestly, deciding to go into Graphic Design was a very last minute decision. I have always been interested in Fine Art and I wasn’t really good at other subjects, so I wanted to take a direction that had something to do with art. When I started researching Prague College’s (now PCU), website I saw Graphic Design and thought “why not”.

gesui cropped

Honestly, this was the best decision I have ever made, I am so happy! It’s something I see myself doing for a long time. I don’t look at it as work, it’s something I find very interesting and it gives me the ability to learn something new every day and I love that. This year I’ve tried to get myself out of my comfort zone and have broadened my contacts and got in touch with more people and really put myself out there.

Do you think PCU has helped you with that process?

100%! Especially this year because I came to the realisation that its about confidence, and I feel like by studying here and being surrounded by my teachers has really helped me with that and pushed me to make contacts in the business world. The projects that we have done this year helped me realize that I am capable of doing a lot of things and helped me with my sense of self-worth in this area. With that confidence, I’ve started contacting more people and have embraced my professional side.

About your successful book project, can you tell me a little bit about the story?

The English translation of the book title is “Death is hard work”. It’s a Syrian novel about the journey that a family undertakes during the Syrian war. Sadly, the father in the family dies and his last wish was to be buried in his home village. To do so his children had to come together and travel with him through a war to complete his wish. It’s not exactly a sad book, it contains humour and is light-hearted.

Once you knew what the book was about, how did you envisage the book cover?

I knew that it was a challenging story but told in a light-hearted way, so I didn’t want the cover to be sad and depressing. I love using different colours to evoke certain types of emotions and send messages, and that’s what I did with this design. The orange color doesn’t give you the sense of darkness and death but then the shape of the hand slightly evokes the idea of death. The hand also has a map overlay on top of it that represents the journey. In my vision, the journey is definitely the most significant aspect so it was very important to have it represented on the book cover. It took me so many concepts to get to this one though...!

What was your first idea?

I originally thought of two hands reaching out towards each other which was meant to represent the children reaching out to their dad, but I felt that this was super dark and didn’t fully represent the tone that the book conveyed. It was definitely a process and the first thought is never the final result. It is a journey!

The brief was given to your entire class and your classmates all submitted a design. Did you think that yours would be the one that would be chosen?

Definitely not! The other concepts were so different from mine and I look up to my classmates a lot and thought their work was amazing. My confidence at that point was the lowest it has ever been. I really didn’t expect to win, I thought I was going to be the one at the bottom.

After this project, would you like to try more design jobs in publishing?

Yes, honestly. It really interested me. Being able to be a part of this project was amazing for me and a big turning point in my confidence and it made me realize that “maybe I am not that bad and can put myself out there”.

After selection there is still a lot of work to be done before the book is printed, distributed and sold. And because of the pandemic, you had to do everything from home. How was that for you?

I honestly think it was easier because I didn’t feel as pressured. I think I would’ve been anxious if it had been done in a different way. My lecturer helped me a lot by organising meetings and making sure that I was aware of everything that was expected by the publishing house. He helped me a lot!

You only have another year until you complete your Bachelor’s. How do you envisage your future after graduation?

I hope to go straight to work here in Prague. I know this region and I feel comfortable here, so I feel that this is the right location to start my career. Maybe after 2 years I will move, but for now, I will stay here.

I really like Prague, and I think there are a lot of opportunities for graduates.

On reflection, what has the experience of working on this project been like overall?

It’s more than positive. I have gained more confidence in myself when I really needed it, so I am very grateful.

Thank you Gesui!

Topics:Research & Creative PracticeGlobal EngagementSchool of Art & Design