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cover for Traveling Light book

We were tasked by Culicidae Press to design the first book in a trilogy of books by author Rose Hamilton-Gottlieb. This one, titled Traveling Light, is a story of three women friends from California who join RAGBRAI: The Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa in 1990. Here is the book description:

The women are Addie, a hard-driving saleswoman, who has not been back to her home state since a painful exit thirty years ago. She commits to the bicycle ride across Iowa because the route goes close to the farm where she grew up. She carries with her deep resentment of her father, who sold the farm rather than allowing her to take it over. And, a letter from the son she gave up for adoption.
Mag shares Addie’s Iowa heritage, but has none of her self-confidence. Although she trains for the ride with her friends with no intention of actually joining the ride, she changes her mind after a confrontation with her estranged husband. She’s haunted by a recurring dream that leaves her fearing for her sanity.
Claire, a native Californian, grumbles about visiting a part of the country she only wanted to see from the window of an airplane on her way to somewhere else. A college professor with an analytical view of the world, a passion for houses, and a penchant for flighty men, she sees the ride as a means to recover from her latest failed relationship.
Ten thousand strong, RAGBRAI is a traveling international city. Riding the blue highways and camping in small towns along the route, the friends confront rough terrain, inclement weather, their own physical limitations, and major life issues. In the process, they learn from one another, from the past, and from the land.

We generated a few covers using Midjourney, specifying Grant Wood’s landscape paintings as a reference, given the book’s Iowa location. The results were a bit too saccharine, and we developed a few more options using photo-realistic renders of three women on bicycles traveling through an Iowa landscape. One of the Grant-Wood-inspired versions is above, the final version of the full cover is below.

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