Stars in the Dark is a writing project that centers on a character born into a South/West Asian-coded society known as Mahjuren, but his heritage is Kinam, a culture coded as Southeast Asian. For the book cover, I wanted to incorporate visual elements from both real-world regions.
For the South and West Asian elements, I took my cues from iznik tiles (see above) and Turkish illumination, which feature beautiful geometric and floral motifs. I chose colors directly influenced by iznik tiles, which also reference key parts of the story. For the Southeast Asian elements, I focused in on Ancient Vietnamese culture, specifically the Dong Son bronze drums (see below) and their intricately crafted surfaces.
My concept sketches were a little busy and left little room for text, so I cut back on the detail and focused on the essential elements: the central star-and-fox, the flowers, and the geometric border. I contrasted the repeating sharp spirals taken from the Dong Son drums with arabesque corner accents that incorporate the drums' distinctive central star.