Category Archives: Others designers book jackets

On Trend

Below are some interesting cover designs I have recently harvested from the internet:

sketchy heads + bubbles

There’s definitely a trend of late for outlines of heads, speech bubbles, very sketchy, simplistic illustration, and hand rendered (or at least hand rendered style) typography. Sometimes a clever designer has managed all of these in one design as per the first cover top left.

Looks like I’m bang on trend with my latest 2 covers then. It’s a rare thing!

9781107043176frcvr 978110704396106


Shirley Tucker and some classic book covers

Shirley Tucker is a graphic designer who worked at the publishing company Faber & Faber in the 60’s and 70’s. I hadn’t come across her until reading an article on the Creative Review blog.

This is a little video of her talking about some of the designs she did and a longer piece about her design for Silvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. It’s a beautifully simple graphic illustration, and a classic cover design that I think would still look great on the bookshelves today. I enjoyed watching this, hope you do too:

Also, on the topic of Faber & Faber, here is a link to their Flickr site which is a lovely collection of some of their classic book covers.

Book cover trends

On browsing through the Guardian bookshop online recently I typically found myself less interested in buying any books, but more in the cover designs and the amount of trends that seem to be emerging. Especially when it comes to the typography.

I’ve gathered together some covers to create a digital scrapbook for my own reference if nothing else, but thought I’d share it, as there may be others that find this interesting and/or useful. These are all non-fiction, mostly science and the environment, economics and politics. I’m sure there are many more trends in fictional publishing, but I’m not going there.

Trend 1: Hand drawn type
I’m not talking about the sort of beautifully hand rendered type mentioned in my previous posts. These are rough and rustic, very freestyle, in no way perfect. Some look like a hand painted sign that might advertise potatoes for sale by the side of the road, some like a child has cut them out of coloured card for a school project, or maybe some were done very roughly at visual stage and the marketing team emphatically stated ‘yes, we want it JUST like that’. It happens if you’re not careful, and then before you know it, a trend is born.

Trend 2: Images within the type.
This isn’t exactly a new thing, designers have been doing it for years, since discovering how to turn type into an outline path. It’s much easier these days and it seems to be a re-emerging trend. Or maybe it’s just always been there and I’d not noticed. It can work well in some cases, making the type more illustrative.

 Trend 3: Type over the image
This is sort of the reverse of trend 2. Either knocking the text out of the image, or just laying it directly over or somehow within the image. Some of those in trend 1 also fit into this category. A much more tricky one to get right, but there is sometimes a notion that text and image should be separate, but sometimes they can work brilliantly when blended together.

Trend 4: Stamped and distressed type
This has been a very noticeable trend of late, so much so I even did it with my own logo. Similar to hand drawn type, except with a rough stamped or stencilled feel. I’m pretty sure these aren’t done by hand though, just some nifty photoshop work at play, with a bit of extra distressing for that authentic look.

Trend 5: Type to help illustrate the title
This is sort of the holy grail of cover design. Finding a typographic solution that also illustrates the books content in some way. The simpler the better.

And finally these three covers don’t fit into any trend as such, but I like them for their simplicity and much more for the typography than the image. I particularly love the Science Delusion and the way the type fizzes and sparkles, I don’t know the relevance but I don’t care.

Beautiful books and artistic desks

Every so often a series of books is published by Penguin, which are just so beautifully designed that I want to own them regardless of the contents. They’re not afraid to break conventional rules, and they set the standards for book design. The attention to detail is always spot on, both in illustration and typography, and they perfectly reflect the contents of the book in a classy and sophisticated way.

Mind you – it does help if the subject of your book is classy and sophisticated to start with! We don’t all get to redesign F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels, or the latest Penguin food series. Not jealous at all!

For anyone interested – click here for a link to the latest book covers designed by their senior cover designer Coralie Bickford-Smith.

Interestingly, I came across her and her latest project a while back through a blog called ‘from the desk of’ where she and her workspace were featured. See it here. This is a great blog that shows the desks or workspaces of creative people from just about anywhere – though mostly in the US I think. It’s a bit random, but there are some really interesting nuggets in there. And I guess some people might find it odd, but personally I find other peoples workspaces fascinating, especially creative people. The desks featured range from in-house at large corporations through to home-working freelancers, and there are mini interviews with the desks owners about their space and work –

However, looking at these creative workspaces always make mine seem extremely dull in comparison:

It’s all very practical: a shelf above my head, which holds an ever increasing amount of books and folders and I always hope will hold okay on the cheap brackets I ‘temporarily’ put up. A small lamp with a natural daylight bulb, which is always on as I have to keep the blind shut so it doesn’t reflect on the monitor screen. The requisite designers Mac, on which I periodically change the desktop pattern/colour, as it’s the thing I see almost everyday, and so I get bored of it easily. I have a swanky white leather swivel chair, my excuse being that I spend a large percentage of my time sitting in it, so may as well get a good one. It has a homemade patchwork cushion on it. And a big notice board that was meant to be for collecting inspirational bits of design and/or art, but typically has become full of boring paperwork.

I do at least have a piece of original graphic art on the wall, it’s a collage by Angie Crowe I bought from the East End Arts Club. It reminds me of the sort of stuff I used to do as an art and graphics student, though never anywhere near as good as this.

And the best bit of my office? The scruffy old bean bag, rawhide chew, and chocolate cocker spaniel sprawled on the floor.

Penguin book cover postcards

In celebration of 75 years of publishing, Penguin recently bought out a box of 100 postcards showing some of their more classic book covers from over the years. I thought it would be a nice idea to put some together in a large picture frame. I think good design should be appreciated as much as art, so why not treat it in the same way?

I did one for me and one for my partner showing books we’ve read, or interesting, quirky or particularly relevant covers.

Obviously I had to include this one, a great design.

And then I have a few like this, that I just love, and would have loved to design. If only we had more covers like this these days.

These are a few that didn’t make it into the frames, but are still interesting.

Two covers by Romek Marber from 1962 and ’63. Obviously his trademark signature is the red lips in a male symbol. Not sure what that’s all about.

A 1957 knitting book and an author illustrated cover from 1946. Both imaginative uses of the penguin. A fluffy looking knitted one stands as the logo on the left hand cover, and the simple addition of a little platform under their feet turn the penguins on the right into toys. How cute. There aren’t many publishers who would be so liberal about the use of their logo.

Two covers from 1962. Britain in the Sixties, back in the days when sheep wondered across the high street. And also when scootering was all the rage, along with setting the image with a deliberate off print and using lowercase letters throughout the title. Rebels.

A couple of colourful illustrative covers from 1965 and 1966. Both quite surreal and slightly scary.

I find these interesting less for the images, but more for the placement of the typography. Especially the Edna O’Brien cover, the way the author and title are set to the far left with a praise quote running around it, and filling the top of the cover. The title being in red, means this is still the text you see first. It’s from 1969, but sadly there’s no mention of the cover designer. A very small and subtle title is probably all that’s needed on the poets cover, how different from the sort of book covers I design.

Finally, I really wanted to show this pony, over written with what looks like an excerpt from the book, and an exclamation mark for a tail. It’s original, that’s for sure. And the illustration on A Severed Head leaves little to the imagination of what this story is about!