40 Shades of Green - Designing the Cover

Designing the cover for the book '40 Shades of Green - The History of the Republic of Ireland Soccer Shirt 1986-2018' was an absolute honour. I had been following the efforts of Eddie O'Mahony the author for some time. I've always had huge admiration for his unwavering dedication to collecting and in time establishing a museum of Ireland's greatest footballing treasures. When he announced he was considering compiling everything from the Ireland Soccer Shirts Museum into a book I offered my services immediately.

It was a dream project. Eddie completely trusted my vision, as we are both avid fans of the national team and football in general I think our tastes align pretty nicely. No Ireland Soccer project can ignore the nostalgia of the 'good ol' days' so my starting point was most certainly the iconic font used for the number 40.

After considerable research into 'football shirt' books I realised there is a reason they all look the same. Its hard to argue with the logic that a compilation of football shirts should feature football shirts on the cover and the more the better! I wanted us to do things a little different so once the initial design was laid out I literally rotated the whole canvas. The rather unorthodox idea to shift the angle of the book was primarily to attract the viewers eye, but also stemmed from something a little more special.

I don't think anyone around the world can argue with the fact the Irish fans and the National team itself escalates to something that little more special when we are on the big stage. We become much more than the sum of our humble parts. The Irish National team never fails to rise to the occasion. Even when down to the last few seconds of a game there is always a smidgen of hope something magic could happen. The angle of the shirts represents our ability as a footballing nation to rise to greatness.

Arguably the most striking motif used on the book cover is the bold geometric stripes. The more cunning of you will have noticed this pattern represents the technical manufactures who have provided our shirts over the years. Umbro, Adidas and O'Neills. The motif is very much and homage to the gloriously bonkers designs of the late 80's and early 90's.

A second little design 'trick' for a lack of a better word I added was the Ireland 97/98 Orange Away shirt in the very centre of the book. This is my first and all time favourite Ireland shirt. Its also the shirt I wore at my first Ireland match, a friendly against Mexico in Lansdowne Road. I knew I wanted it on the cover and luckily it was on Eddie's preferred shortlist too. Its such a strong colour, not everyone's cup of tea I'm sure but my hope was it would catch the eye from across a bookshop.

That brings us to the back and side of the cover. Following the same design motif as the front the back cover features the Ireland Soccer Museum logo I designed for Eddie as well as Eddie's manta for this project 'If You Build It They Will Come'. The most important aspect of the cover for me was, no matter what angle you viewed it from it was very obvious what kind of book it was. We shouldn't judge books by the cover but we all do. Little design elements like the shamrock on the side, and continuing the stripes around to the back were all the reinforce this is a Irish football book about Irish football shirts.

I hope fans of Eddie's excellent book appreciate the cover and the thought that went into its design. I must make a special mention to Lettertec Printing and Elaine Barry who did a stunning job on the book. I played the smallest of parts in this project but was honoured to do so. Its a keepsake I will treasure for years to come.