Throughout the story, Ray mentions Buffalo Hides several times. At the end of the story, he also compares his back to a buffalo hide when he is in the river. I am thinking that I will use this as a background for the book cover, and having other elements from the story on top of it, since it is a pretty neutral composition. My goal with using this as a background is having other images on it, looking like a brand on the skin. I might also use an American flag brand on the skin, as the short stories also have an underlying tone of the effect of the “American Dream” and settlement on the US.
Fire is a huge part of the story, and is the reason that Ray loses his job. His irresponsibility is what caused the fort to burn down, and to hit an oil rig, the town’s new livelihood. Smoke is the aftermath of fire, and the results. To me, I would potentially use smoke as an alternative background, or use smoke to outline a silhouette of a person or animal, as smoke can be used to show the results of his actions. I think that it acts as an effective symbol, because it is usually smoke that alerts people to fire. In this case, his irresponsibility can be compared to fire, and the smoke can be compared to the results of his actions. He also smokes cigarettes, drawing another connection between Ray and smoke.
PBR is a huge part of the story. Ray and Charlie are often drinking beer, wether in the celebration or on the job. He also smokes cigarettes often, and this can is surrounded by cigarettes. Both of these items are commonly associated with leisure and addiction, as well as passing time. This suggests that he is bored at his job, and does not care about it. I was thinking about using outlines of cans and cigarettes as the brand on the buffalo hide.
Obviously, oil rigs are a huge part of the story. They are the new center of the economy of the area where Ray is located. I was also thinking about using an outline of the oil rig on the cover as a brand in the background of the can and the cigarettes. Ray has a lot of resentment toward the oil rigs, and says that the jobs are “too much work” compared to his own. But his own dissatisfaction and boredom with his own job has led him to potentially work on these rigs, as his irresponsibility has led him to destroy his own livelihood.
Below is the first draft of my book cover:
I am planning to make the flag look more like a brand into the skin, but I wanted to check that I was going in a good direction before I put more work into it in case it was not a solid design choice.