Otherhood: Meaning Behind the Cover

Book cover art is important. Not only is it helpful to have a book cover that attracts readers in stores and online by its design, the cover art also sets the tone for the book and helps readers understand what to expect inside.

For the cover art for OTHERHOOD: Modern Women Finding a New Kind of Happiness, the publisher, Seal Press (and Penguin Canada) and I enlisted Van Huynh, a designer I have worked with on many Savvy Auntie graphic designs. After about five years working together, Van understands my brand aesthetic and I felt she could produce a cover we'd love. Van proposed two cover directions based on the five-page creative brief she received from us. The final cover is about 90 percent of one of the two directions she shared with us. It's rare for a cover draft to be so close to final artwork. And we are thrilled with the final design!

Not only is the cover, in my humble opinion, beautiful, there is great meaning behind so many of the details. Here is the symbolism I wanted to be embedded in the cover art to help tell the story of Otherhood. But like any art, please feel free to add your thoughts on the symbolism as it gives meaning to you and your experience with the book. Otherhood cover art

The Dahlia:

  • The dahlia is symbolic of a higher sense of elegance, dignity, and self-worth. It reminds us, the women of Otherhood, to hold our head high no matter what the circumstances and to always keep pride in our accomplishments.
  • Symbolic of hope for an everlasting union between two people.
  • Dahlias are spicy flowers, and their meanings range from a sign of warning, to change, to travel, to even a portent of betrayal. Otherhood is about women making a choice to change something in their lives, or risk not moving forward.

White Flower:

  • The white flower symbolizes a blank canvas and a new beginning/clean slate for the reader. The textured images says that her life is not dull/plain. It’s filled with experiences. Her life is not empty; the reader has a full life, filled with great relationships/friendships, children, careers, ambitions, passions and fun.
  • This book is not colored with judgment; while part memoir, the author is impartial to the reader’s decisions – just that she make decisions.
  • White contains all the colors on the spectrum, both positive and negative aspects of all colors. Life is not what the women of the Otherhood expected it to be, but it is a good, good life – that is if they are able to see that it is so.
  • Psychology notes that white is reflective and symbolizes growth potential and ‘awakening openness.’

The Woman:

  • The image of the 1960s woman symbolizes that we expected to have what our mothers had, and yet what we have is something unexpected and different.

The Woman and the Flower - connected:

  • The flower looks like it is the woman’s mind, plus it covers her eyes. This symbolizes a modern way of thinking about her life / looking at her life, which is different from her mother's. She has a different perspective.
  • The flower is also in her dream: Transition, cycles, fragility, development - all the delicate beauty flowers convey are mirrored in our dreams. Blossoming flowers in dreams carry a sweet scent of growth, development and becoming more aware of ourselves within the context of our environment. White flowers in a dream denotes sadness.

The Black and White Otherhood title / Black & White Dahlia image:

  • Black and white symbolizes the white as noted above, with a stronger focus on yin/yang with the balance of black.
  • The black and white represents a pull in two directions (Love or motherhood? Choice or chance? What we expected or what we have? Etc.) as she strives for balance/equilibrium.


  • The color of optimism and happiness.
  • In New York City and other large cities - it's the yellow of taxi cabs moving us from one place to another.  The yellow adds a sense of action. Make a decision / choose a direction. Live with action. Move forward.

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Otherhood: Meaning Behind the Cover”

  1. Tina Brown March 4, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    For me the white flower showed possibility of the future and preservation of the past (what used to be). The 1960’s woman is vintage and new at the same time. Showing the evolution of women, their ideas and their paths in life.

    -Tina Brown, Art Director



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