In 2015, Mandy Len Catron’s New York Times “Modern Love” essay, “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This,” went viral, spawned a TEDx talk that’s been viewed three million times, and inspired Catron’s forthcoming collection, How to Fall in Love with Anyone (Simon & Schuster, July).

Jackie Seow, executive art director of trade art at S&S, shared some early comps of the book’s jacket, shown below.

Seow and her team liked the above tries, but “I thought that the connection to the original ‘Modern Love’ piece was missing,” she said. “We didn’t want to include jacket copy that made the connection, so it made perfect sense to ask Brian Rea, who illustrates the 'Modern Love' column, to do an illustration for the book.”

Rea’s pencil-sketch concepts are shown below. “Some of them are pretty hilarious,” Seow said. “The ones that pushed the idea that anyone can fit the bill are funniest to me,” particularly #2, “Mysteries of Love,” and #5, “Falling in Love w/Anyone (Last Choice).”

Seow chose two sketches for Rea to flesh out—the one that ended up as the final pick, and image #8, shown below with senior designer Jonathan Bush’s jacket design. “We thought it had a universal appeal and could be relevant to men and women,” Seow said, but “the author felt it was too on the nose and didn’t illustrate an alternate notion of love.”

The final illustration choice was closer to the one that ran with Carton’s New York Times essay, but with a twist. “The original ‘Modern Love’ piece only had the woman,” Seow said. “We wondered what it would look like if the woman was on front and the man on back.”

That try, above, wasn’t quite right. “The single eye on the front looked like a Cyclops,” Seow said. “Plus I didn’t like that the guy was shuttled off to the back.”

Seow’s team reunited the man and the woman on the front of the jacket. The image works, she said, beacuse the symbolism resonates with the theme of the book. “They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder," she said, "so I like that they are both looking for that ‘anyone’ through the eyes.”

The comp below sets the image against an alternate background color.

In the end, Seow said, “Sometimes the obvious is just, well, obvious. Red equals love. But we did the exercise of trying other colors to be sure.”

The finished jacket, red background and all, is shown below.