Phillip Gessert

I design books for indie and emerging authors.



An ebook cover I did recently for a literary mystery.


August 4, 2014

Since Last Week

  1. Smartisan OS
  2. image
  3. image

Last week Elizabeth, Patrick, and Tristan came to Dribbble HQ. We managed to get a little work done, including a Timeout with Beijing designer Paco (Smartison OS above left). We also ferried into Boston (above center) and celebrated…

A style umbrella and book design for a nonprofit publisher dealing in books describing African cultural impact.

A logo for an online learning center.

Front Cover for February Issue
Photo by Chase Steely. Front Cover for May Issue. Photo by Giuseppe Pellicano.

A magazine layout for a publication centering around poetry, prose and artwork by veterans. Check out for more info.

A redesign for a cover I made a while back.

Here are a few text ornaments I made for a novel recently.

An illustration of a ball player for a company specializing in digital baseball cards.


An Ebook cover for a short story. I keyed to braid imagery because a braid figures prominently in the story (literally and figuratively). And in order to represent ‘things falling apart’, I took some cues from glitch art by damaging the braid illustration here and there—though it’s not true glitch art since I didn’t actually damage the file itself. That seems like it’d be interesting to play with though, proper glitch art is something I’d be curious to mess with.

I feel like the rain made the Color Run more awesome.

A work-in-progress illustration for a book cover. The shape of the giant was made using my own shadow, which is especially evident in the way it deforms / elongates near the lower hand.

I already ate them all.

Here’s something I make for breakfast quite a bit



Prep Time: 30min | Cook Time: 30min | Servings: 2 | Difficulty: Medium


  • 2 Flour Tortillas
  • 1/4 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/4 Green Bell Pepper
  • 1/8 Sweet Onion
  • 1 Potato
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar
  • 2 TBSP Salsa
  • 1/4 Cup Chorizo
  • 2 TBSP Butter
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • S & P to taste


Take cheese block out of the refrigerator to warm up and soften.

Peel and cut potato into 1/4” cubes. Place in large lidded pan with 2 TBSP melted butter and cook at a low temperature for ten minutes.

While that’s cooking, slice peppers and onion and set aside in a bowl. Do basic cleanup up to that point.

Place two eggs with butter and milk into a small pan, but do not cook that yet. Add s & p.

After first ten minutes, raise temperature for potatoes to a medium heat, place lid on pan, and cook another ten minutes. Stir or disturb them occasionally. Taste one when it looks right, if necessary do an extra few minutes at a higher temp with the lid off for crispiness.

Warm oven at 250.

Pull potatoes off heat, replace that pan with a medium frying pan coated with 1 TBSP olive oil. When the oil is hot, add 1/4 cup chorizo and cook until brown.

Heat a small burner on high, and prepare to cook the eggs. In the chorizo pan, push the chorizo to the side and add the peppers and onions. Shred the cheese and clean up to that point. Place 2 tortillas into warm oven.

Place egg pan on hot burner, stirring and removing from heat occasionally, until the eggs are light and fluffy. As they near that point, empty the cooked potatoes into the pan with the chorizo, peppers and onions. Stir.

Place warm tortillas onto plate and sprinkle 3/4 of the cheese onto them. Add the eggs on top of that, and the potato / chorizo / pepper / onion mixture onto that. Top with remainder of cheese and 1 TBSP salsa each. Serve open. 

Turn off oven and all burners and oven, and remove all pans from heat.

Notes: Great for energy.

Nutritional Info: 820 calories per serving.
Fairly high sodium (chorizo)


Don’t style your manuscript.

When editing (or even writing) your manuscript, you may be tempted to format it as near an actual printed piece as possible, and make everything ‘look right’. If you plan to use a professional layout designer for your book’s interior,  you can save yourself a lot of work by skipping this step—because your designer is very likely to strip out all that style and formatting.

When your layout designer begins setting up your book, he’ll first move through it to identify each distinct structural element. Under the hood, he’ll designate chapter titles as distinct from the paragraphs that follow, he’ll designate lists from block quotes; and will generally define every different piece of your book so that he can efficiently style like elements all at once, and create a harmonious whole.

If your designer is using software like InDesign, he will have robust tools that give him a lot of control over how all these elements look—once he’s identified those elements as such. So that identification is extremely critical. As your manuscript moves nearer and nearer to a definitive ‘final’ version, you’ll want to point your attention at things that will make it easy for your designer to IDENTIFY each element. However, you can safely resist the urge to STYLE them.

For example, you may be tempted to set up a title and half-title page for yourself, taking a lot of care to position your text so it looks as close to a printed piece as possible. Or you may want improve the look of your chapter titles by bolding them, centering them, or even placing a few extra carriage returns before the first line of that chapter. Most designers will undo all that hard work immediately, because technical styling is handled differently within their toolsets.

If your work includes a Table of Contents, you can simply ask the designer to add one rather than adding one yourself—your text will flow differently than it did in your source manuscript, and your page numbers will shift as well. That’s why page numbering and running heads are not super critical to the manuscript, either.

Now, if you’ve already got a heavily-formatted and styled manuscript, that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily encounter problems, After all, all that styling probably does an awesome job at helping the designer identify each element—and he’s probably got methods in place to help him transform your work. However, if your manuscript is fairly plain (but clear), you can absolutely spare yourself the time and effort of making it beautiful before handing it off to a designer.

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