Graphic Design by Bob Pierce

When I first got into the graphics field, we didn’t call it “graphic design,” we called it “commercial art” because back then, the technology was a tool to express the design; one went to art school which would just as readily teach oil painting and sculpture as it would teach advertising psychology and photo retouching. Today’s graphic artists are technological wunderkinds but their training and experience rarely venture into artistic layout, balance, typography, and other elements of design that would make an project a powerful and successful one. Truly, there is no school like the old school.

And that is what I bring to the table with my designs. Most of the projects I work on these days are publications and books; laying out page after page of text with illustrations and eye-catching covers. Every bit of my training and decades of experience are poured into each and every one and I will bring that expertise to bear on your project be it a novel, a periodic magazine, advertising campaign, package design or…whatever it is you may need.

Another shift in the paradigm of the design field is the easy use of the internet. Once I would have to meet with a client across a conference table and map out all of the details of a proposed project and then have them return to see mocked-up proofs. Today everything is digital. I have many clients that I’ve never met face to face who rely on me to meet their deadlines and produce award-winning work for their businesses, events and publications.


Today I specialize in book layouts and design. As an author, I have done the design work, illustration and print preparation for each of my titles and I’ve been taking on projects for other independent authors as well. With the greater availability for authors to self-publish and distribute their books, professional layout and design is imperative. So many publishing houses make it easy for writers to do their own layouts using templates for Microsoft Word which give them the most rudimentary of tools with equally rudimentary results but the cost of using the publisher to do the layout work can often be prohibitive. That’s where I come in.

I bring all my years of experience in design and printing. I design covers to be eye-catching to arrest the attention of book shoppers both on line and in brick-and-mortar book stores. The pages are laid out for the greatest readability and with a certain style that is consistent with the story. Photos and other illustrations are prepared and inserted with adjustments made for optimum printing results. I have hired models and photographers and even picked up a paint brush now and again to execute cover images with impact.

Book Page SamplesThe phenomenon of self-publishing has grown so much, in fact, that I now teach seminars on preparing manuscripts, design and layout and even promotion strategies for writers who are anxious to get their work published. If you are a writer looking for a real, professional layout and design service to prepare your book for publishing (and don’t want to put yourself in the hands of an assembly-line publishing graphic artist), get in touch with me, I’ll be happy to answer your questions and you’ll find out it’s far more painless than it may seem.


For over twenty years I’ve been working with a few different titles of periodical magazines for a couple of different publishers. Typically, their writers would dump text files and photos on me (by deadline, hopefully) and my art direction would translate a sea of paper and computer files into high-quality, bullet-proof designs that go to press on time and without drama. These are the things that magazine publishers and their advertisers want and that is what I deliver.

Over the years, my magazine and periodical designs have garnered three Communicator Awards for excellence.

As the magazine business has ridden a pendulum that has swung toward the on-line web-based world and mostly abandoned the print world, that pendulum has swung back again and the magazines that I worked with rode it to keep up with the technology and the shifting styles that have resulted.

Many such magazines have started out as kitchen-table layout projects (maybe yours?) but today’s expectations are far higher and if you are a small-run publisher, particularly a “buff-book” publisher or club magazine, my services are precisely what you need. Not only do I handle the layout and design and all the art direction, but also work as liaison with printers and can help with contract negotiations when the need arises.

The ink-and-paper periodical industry is enjoying a resurgence. Is your publication ready to take advantage of that? Let’s talk.


For virtually every project these days, special images need to be created. Most folks wouldn’t think of the possibilities of what could be done in PhotoShop by a professional until they see it. Just putting a snapshot on a book cover or promotional piece is all well and fine but how much more eye-catching would it be with some creative attention. Here are a few examples of some “before” and “after” images that have been used on various projects recently.

Obviously, these images have had a ton of work done on them. Cutting, re-configuring various elements. The space suit was colored to look more like a running suit for the cover of a book for marathon runners. I added the number bib to the front of the suit and, if you look closely, you can see the scene of the marathon runners ahead reflected in the visor.

Obviously, these images have had a ton of work done on them. Cutting, re-configuring various elements. The space suit was colored to look more like a running suit for the cover of a book for marathon runners. I added the number bib to the front of the suit and, if you look closely, you can see the scene of the marathon runners ahead reflected in the visor.

The girl is from the cover of my book “Ascention,” the raw photo from the photographer is on the left untouched. Her hair was red but not red enough, I added color and also changed her eyes to a brilliant green. The image was then processed with a couple of different filters to create the final image that I used for the book and all of the promotional materials that went with it.

Sometimes the project doesn’t require quite so much creative alterations but just a few fun alterations.

The vintage Ferrari engine was an interesting project. The photo was shot directly overhead. To be used for a CD cover, it needed to be perfectly symmetrical and square. In PhotoShop, the image was distorted from what I started out with (on the left). Let’s face it, even the most talented and well-equipped photographer can’t be sure to get the camera perfectly centered and paralell to the image when he’s leaning over the fender trying not to actually touch the paint with his belly. Trust me. The photo was also enhanced to bring out some more of the detail, as well. 

It’s hard to say that one could even dare to suggest that they could improve on Leaonardo DaVinci, but for my book “Pieces,” I needed to use the master’s painting (since it’s central to the story line) but make it say more. By adding the Roy Orbison shades and a sub-machine gun, it really did. The shades were drawn in a drawing program and inserted. The machine gun was lifted from a photo from a different photo session and color-shifted to have the same warm tones of browns and beiges that the painting had and then blurred to give it a softer look. Once pasted in place, the hand was cut and lifted from a copy of the original photo file and set in place. Finally some shading and shadows and one can hardly tell that Leonardo himself hadn’t painted her just like that. Though it’s obvious that the Mona Lisa did not have bright red lipstick, purple streaks in her hair and a machine gun, it’s still important sometimes to make the alterations – even really heroic ones – appear as if no alterations had been done at all. 

And sometimes that’s just the ticket. Sometimes we just need to give the camera’s eye a little help.

For his next book, the author wanted to use this photo of himself running in the Boston Marathon on the cover. It’s not a bad image as it stands but the background is a bit busy and distracting. I selected out everything behind the foreground runner and motion-blurred it and cut the contrast down a bit. Again, don’t want to make it look like it was fooled around with, it wants to still appear natural. The book cover will have a transparent band going across the middle of the image with the title lettering on top of it and the “Team Rett” lettering was way too bold and competing even with a ghosted band so it was airbrushed out and the fading yellow spots duplicated and extended down into the blank space. Also, the bright white “adidas” logo was darkened to avoid conflict with the title. If one did not have the original photo to compare against, one would never know that the finished product was messed with.

So what sort of project do you have in mind? Is your book in need of a dynamite, eye-grabbing cover and you need to use some sort of image and just can’t make it happen? Well, I probably can. I’ve done hundreds of PhotoShop manipulations like these for books, magazines and advertising and I know I can make it happen for you, too. 


Not every design job has pages and a spine, some are unique in many ways. One of the projects that have come into my studio from time to time are CD package designs. It’s sort of become a sort of sub-specialty around here. I’ve worked for a number of independent artists and various CD production companies and distribution companies. A design that I did a few years ago for a regular client was actually nominated for a Grammy Award for packaging design! No, we didn’t win, but he told me that an indie artist almost never gets nominated for anything, so this was really a pleasant surprise.

CD SamplesCD package design is much like book design, particularly the covers, as certain philosophies and design strategies apply to both. As with book cover designs, I have worked with photographers, models, original artwork (some of my own) and some pretty ambitious digital graphic treatments.

Independent musicians today are able to record themselves with some pretty sophisticated recording equipment that has become small, inexpensive and easy to use. Tracking their song mixes on a home computer with readily available software, today’s indie artist can produce a very professional-sounding album in their living rooms and basements. Shouldn’t the cover for that CD look just as professional? If you want to put as much into the image of your musical product as you have the music itself, you need to get in touch with me. Really.


Tall Poster SamplesIn addition to the specialties that I work in, my studio is known as a “can-do” operation and so I have produced all sorts of projects: Trade show display booths, posters, packaging, point-of-purchase displays, logos, signs, graphics for apparel, vehicle wraps, etc., etc., etc.

Bottom line is, if you have anything that you need designed and you want it to look professional, to be effective and at a reasonable cost, drop me an e-mail. I’m happy to work up free estimates and even send you some larger, higher-resolution samples than these pixelated thumbnails on this page so that you can get a better look at what I can do for you. Let me hear from you.

Design Footer