I initially generated concepts involving cut and distorted newspaper and googly eyes to convey concepts of distortion of media and government surveillance; however, I ultimately chose to veer away from these because they felt overplayed. Instead, I decided to use the image of a toy mouse, which served as a stand-in for the horrific rats in the novel, a key symbol of the story. Rats symbolize filth and decay; they evoke phrases like "rat race"; and physical rats are used to break the protagonist's will during the climax of the book. The toy mouse, in addition, evoked phrases like "cat and mouse" and worked as a metaphor for the main character ultimately being the helpless toy of the government.
I hit on the idea of using dripped red gouache to look like blood and masking the numbers out of the gouache. The project then became a matter of execution: I did around ten tests playing with different drips and positioning and styling of the numbers, and began rough experiments with lighting. I also began mocking up book jackets and setting the type. After some exploration, I selected a monospaced typeface because it created a feeling of futurism and inhumanity.
Finally, I took high-quality photos and did some final lighting tests and type tweaks before settling on my finished cover. I opted for darker, high-contrast lighting in the end because I was told the bright white cover looked "cute." Dark lighting may be typical of covers of the genre, but I felt I needed some obvious dystopian iconography to offset the playful look of the toy mouse.