Best Aotearoa Book Cover of 2022 – Meat Lovers by Rebecca Hawkes, design by Duncan Munro, published by Auckland University Press

After looking at hundred of Aotearoa's book covers, I've picked Meat Lovers by Rebecca Hawkes for the best book cover of 2022. This book of poems was published by Auckland University Press, and Rebecca worked with designer Duncan Munro to create the killer cover.  

Meat Lovers

Rebecca had this to say about creating Meat Lovers:

I worked with the lovely and patient designer Duncan Munro on the cover design. He introduced the shape of the frame and the fonts as a way to showcase my visually busy artwork. I wanted something quite psychedelic yet structured, and we were initially looking at Mucha and Grateful Dead posters for inspiration. I knew from the start I wanted to paint the imagery myself, in my own style, and accurately advertise the lush gory sensuality of the poems through my other medium... so there are plenty of motifs from the manuscript to spot on the front and back cover.

I hand-painted all the cow, fruits, face-melding Cupid and Psyche and so on as a digital artwork - with a tablet pen for a brush, layering pixel pigments the way I would with oil paints (which is my usual medium) in an ancient version of Photoshop. I'd love to work more in digital media, it can be more fast and free than physical oils - and easier to edit, which is why I went digital in the first place, for freedom to respond to feedback in the short time available. Everything sits on its own layer, and there are quire a few individual drawings I lovingly painted but eventually removed from the final composition.

We worked through a few options to settle on the cover's colours too. Here's a more candyfloss-ish mock up. I was obsessed with making these marbled patterns to make the cover as maximalist as possible. But I had to concede that the final sickly pink and blue look is starker and more cohesive at a thumbnail level. Plus the meaty marbling instead makes an entrance on the inside covers, glowing ominously against white pages.


Sophia from Auckland University Press reports:

The cover was a really satisfying collaboration between Rebecca and the designer, Duncan Munro, who pulled together all her references and touchpoints (heavy-metal-meets-art-nouveau-meets-grateful-dead-psychedelia-meets-nz-gothic) into one cohesive design. Rebecca then developed her amazing artwork within the structure of the template, and the whole thing bloomed from there.

Rebecca's website has this gorgeous description of her art:

An unschooled visual artist, Rebecca mostly paints in oils. She has played across varied media to craft polymer clay sculptures, digital illustration, tiny zines, and looming murals. Her visual artwork reflects the terrible beauty of the natural world, monstrosities and the occult, sumptuous banquets and feminine queerness. The sublimities and discomforts of bodies and ecosystems in the anthropocene also emerge in her poetry as a writer of flesh industries, human beastliness, and adorable weeds.

Kia ora Rebecca, Duncan, and the team at Auckland University Press. Love your mahi!

Meat Lovers by Rebecca Hawkes
Art by Rebecca Hawkes
Design by Duncan Munro
Published by Auckland University Press

P.S. Rebecca's art is also on the cover of The year's best Aotearoa New Zealand science fiction and fantasy volume IV edited by Emily Brill-Holland. 

More about Rebecca

Best Book Covers 2022

You can read more about the besties of the year in Best Book Covers of 2022 - My picks of Aotearoa's finest.