By Joseph Ditzler • The Bulletin

What: Faceout Studio

What it does: Primarily designs book covers

Pictured: Torrey Sharp, partner

Where: 520 SW Powerhouse Drive, Suite 628, Bend

Employees: 10

Phone: 541-323-3220

Website: faceoutstudio.com

The old saying claims you can’t judge a book by its cover, but the people who design book covers know that’s not exactly true.

“We really have to know what we’re doing to be successful with such a broad array of books,” said Torrey Sharp, one half of the business partnership behind Faceout Studio, a Bend-based business that designs book covers. “We’re either dealing with an author or an editor, but they’re the ones most intimate with the story and the content, so what we design has to accurately reflect the tone and the content.”

Faceout Studio takes its name from the practice of placing a book on the bookstore shelf with the cover facing outward, for maximum exposure, rather than only the spine facing out, just one in a row with many others.

“If you get a face out, it means you’re noteworthy and worthy of attention,” Sharp said, “extra attention, so to speak.”

Ninety percent of the firm’s business involves designing book covers, including the spine and dust jacket, and in some cases it handles page layout. The firm survived five stressful years while consolidations reordered the publishing business, Sharp said. Last year, Faceout earned its highest revenues since 2008, he said.

Sharp, a Pennsylvania native, first came to Central Oregon in 1996 to work in Sisters for the former Multnomah Publishers Inc.; he then went to work in 2002 for David Uttley of The DesignWorks Group.

Five years later, Sharp and business partner Charles Brock, originally from Oklahoma, purchased The DesignWorks Group from Uttley and renamed it Faceout Studio. The firm is marking 20 years in business; Uttley started the original DesignWorks Group in 1996, Brock said.

Faceout Studio, in the Old Mill District, has designed logos for the Les Schwab Amphitheater and the Bend Brewfest, but few of their clients are based in Central Oregon. “They are a very impressive company that does spectacular work,” said Marnie Smith, the amphitheater director.

The studio has designed thousands of book covers, including those for best-selling authors Brad Meltzer and James Patterson, Sharp said. As the publishing business continues to change, Faceout Studio is looking for new opportunities, he said.

“It used to be, if you could get a book published by a big New York publishing house, that was the peak,” Sharp said. “Thought leaders and influencers, they don’t just need a printed book. They need webcasts; they need podcasts; they need e-learning curriculum; they need lots of other formats to make their content accessible. It’s about getting more content into more hands in the way the consumer would like to interact with it.”

The U.S. publishing hubs are in New York, Chicago and Nashville, Tennessee, the latter a focal point for religious publishers and the location of the firm’s second-largest client base, Brock said. He moved there in June 2014 to set up a second Faceout Studio office.

But having its headquarters in Bend helps the firm, in a way, Sharp said.

“We really like being on the West Coast; it’s where a lot of us have decided to be,” he said. “Frankly … there’s a mystique about that, the West, and that’s not a bad thing. We sometimes wish we were closer to the action in New York, but I think our New York clients think it’s pretty cool that we’re in Bend.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com

Q: What are some of the design elements incorporated into a book jacket?

A: Torrey Sharp: For example, we do one of the biggest authors out there, James Patterson. There are certain considerations for his branding that become exponentially more important because of his market position than, say, a new author. Where, maybe, a new author, their name doesn’t need to be as prominent because nobody knows who they are, but there’s an element in the story that’s powerful. … So we have to place emphasis on different things depending on various considerations.

Q: How has Amazon (a Faceout client) affected business?

A: Sharp: About five years ago, the emergence of digital books … put the (traditional publishing) industry in high alert, and there was the assumption that digital books would overly cannibalize print and print was going away. Five years later, that certainly has not happened. … So publishers have gone from overly concerning themselves with digital applications to only marginally considering that.

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