Natalie Sowa

Natalie Sowa - Designer

Chicago, IL, USA

I design award-winning book covers that showcase great ideas. Currently in-house at the University of Chicago Press.

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Book cover design is a collaborative process between the author and the designer. You bring your knowledge of your book to the table, and I bring the perspective of a potential reader. You know your book better than anyone else, and also understand the context of its subject matter and market. As a designer, it's my job to make the best use of your information, and design a cover that will communicate to potential readers effectively. A book cover is one design or concept, so it can't do everything that your book does! My philosophy of cover design is to use every element (type, image, color, scale) intentionally to create a snapshot of the book. My goal with each design is to produce a solution that is both at home with its peers in the genre and stands out as an exemplarily beautiful piece of art.

I have a 6 years of experience working in-house and freelance with a variety of clients, and I've worked on 100+ books at all stages of production. I design for offset, POD, digital short run printing, making decisions on type and color while considering the final printing outcome. With a deep understanding of how to produced effectively designed book covers, I work with clients across academic and trade contexts. From hand lettering and illustration to sourcing the perfect image (often free of licensing fees!) and pairing with it the best and most appropriate type, I have a diverse skill set that is at home with any subject matter. When you work with me, you'll receive a brief guide to my process and what to expect with your quote, as well as a handy PDF with some tips on how to give optimized feedback on your cover sketches and the final cover design. I look forward to working with kind, professional authors in an atmosphere of mutual trust.

Praise for my work:

"A perfectly-executed classic university press cover design." — Thomas Eykemans, AUPresses Judge and Design Director, Lucia | Marquand

"I absolutely LOVE the cover . . . the mirror/frame idea plays SO well with the overall theme of the book." — Adrian Daub, author

"This [cover] made my day - perhaps even my week! I love it and think it is perfect." — Karen Bradshaw, author

"A most organized, balanced, and effective layout." — Anne Twomey, AUPresses Judge and Creative Director, Celadon Books

"The cover is perfect: the composition, the color scheme, the title and name [typography]." — Julia Hell, author

Life Sciences
Religion & Spirituality


  • BA (Hons) Design for Publishing
  • Member of AIGA


  • AUPresses Book, Jacket, and Journal Show
  • D&AD New Blood

Work experience


University of Chicago Press
October, 2018 – Present (over 2 years)

Design book covers and interiors, as well as managing all aspects of a book's design life cycle (preparing print-ready files, assessing proofs, triple checking final files for accuracy). Working on over 80 books a year, I work with authors and the Press' in-house marketing, acquisitions, and sales teams to create successful book cover designs.

Graphic Designer

Studio TILT
July, 2016 – September, 2018 (about 2 years)

As the in-house designer for Studio TILT, I designed all content both client-facing and internal. From pitch decks to a label for a can of beans, I cut my teeth on design in a fast-paced and innovative environment where my colleagues and I blended the best of existing conventional wisdom and a dose of magical 'what if we do this?' thinking. Studio TILT's focus is designing with their customers and end-users in mind, and work there gave me a unique insight into collaborating with an end user that I bring to my current freelancing as a book designer. I know how to ask the right questions to get the best information from experts (authors) about their product (book), and how to convey that information using principles of graphic design and aesthetics.

Freelance Designer

September, 2014 – Present (over 6 years)

As a freelance designer I've worked with a range of clients, from a non-profit reading charity to a coffee shop and roaster to a bestselling historical novelist. My practice currently specializes in book covers, both digital only and print and digital packages. I love bringing order to chaos, and wrangling complex data into well-designed tables is my guilty pleasure.

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