Books are very desirable to design artwork for as their messages and stories are open to creative interpretation. From the most literal rendering to the metaphorical, we’ve done our research and have chosen our personal favourites. Check out our 6 PICKS below:
Joe: The Girl in the Picture by Denise Chong
“Kim’s life was shaped by others wanting to pull her back in focus. Once the Communist regime “rediscovered” her as the subject of a photograph famous in the West, the photograph itself became the commanding, organising presence in her life. She was used for propaganda, but at the same time, she was an acceptable living symbol of wartime suffering.” – Excerpt from ‘The Girl in the Picture’Not focussing so much on the design of the cover, but the impact of the photography used on the cover of this book. Sometimes, the true skill in graphic design is knowing when to let a photograph (and its story) speak for itself. The infamous image by Nick Ut was shot during the Vietnam War. Shortly after he took the photograph, he rushed Kim Phuc, the young naked girl pictured, to hospital which ultimately saved her life. This book by Denise Chong is Kim’s take on that fateful day and the events leading up to it – the photograph is testament enough to the horrors of war to stand starkly against a solid black background and still be able to speak volumes.
Alice: Classic 'The Puffin in Bloom' Collection
“From the old and pleasantly situated village of Mayenfeld, a footpath winds through green and shady meadows to the foot of the mountains, which on this side look down from their stern and lofty heights upon the valley below. The land grows gradually wilder as the path ascends, and the climber has not gone far before he begins to inhale the fragrance of the short grass and sturdy mountain-plants, for the way is steep and leads directly up to the summits above.” – Excerpt from ‘Heidi’Anna Bond’s style of illustration is now synonymous with the work of Rifle Paper Co, the company she co-owns, directs and presides over, and there is no doubt why her style has gone down so well with the likes of Penguin and Puffin Books (Penguin’s Children-focussed branch), with her hand-painted characters and typography, and her vibrant and eye catching colour palettes. The exquisite attention to detail appears, not only on the cover of the book, but inside the jacket and even throughout the book’s text.
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” – Excerpt from ‘The Hobbit’To redesign a cover for a classic isn’t an easy task, especially when said classic has an army of avid, loyal and hypercritical fans. Yet when the blog, The Fox is Black challenged designers everywhere to reinterpret the iconic illustrative cover for The Hobbit, Adam Busby rose to the challenge and created this monotone, simplistic and hand-drawn map that complimented both the heritage of the book, and the story within. The map would seemingly fit well within the novel itself, perhaps being held by one of its characters in order to navigate their surroundings. A stunning example of how contemporary design and illustration can so beautifully compliment the classics.
Abi: Penguin Crime Series
“SOMETHING WOKE HIM in the middle of the night. Perhaps it was the heavy, stifling air of closed bed curtains. In his half-doze he could not remember drawing the curtains of the bed, which was three hundred years old. And it floated through his mind that he had swallowed rather a large dose of chloral hydrate, as a sleeping draught. Hence he might not have remembered.” – Excerpt from ‘The Devil in Velvet’The majority of people are familiar with the distinctive classic Penguin covers, but few know exactly why they are so visually appealing and sought after. It all started when graphic designer Romek Marber devised a grid system which he used to create all of the cover layouts in the new crime series. Penguin had previously stuck to a clear typographic style, but Marber’s use of space and abstract illustration gave each novel it’s own personality whilst keeping it cohesively part of the series – no mean feat! Marber’s designs breathed new life into the brand and helped elevate Penguin Publishing into the sight lines of younger, and more design-conscious buyers.
James: On the Road by Jack Kerouac
“Great Chicago glowed red before our eyes. We were suddenly on Madison Street among hordes of hobos, some of them sprawled out on the street with their feet on the curb, hundreds of others milling in the doorways of saloons and alleys. “Wup! wup! look sharp for old Dean Moriarty there, he may be in Chicago by accident this year.” We let out the hobos on this street and proceeded to downtown Chicago. Screeching trolleys, newsboys, gals cutting by, the smell of fried food and beer in the air, neons winking–“We’re in the big town, Sal! Whooee!” – Excerpt from ‘On the Road’The creation of ‘On the Road’ is an intriguing story within its own right; having travelled across America with his friends, Jack Kerouac kept numerous notebooks which were then typed onto a 120 ft roll of Teletype paper, and the infamy of the autobiographical novel was born. For his design, which won the runner up prize in the 2008 Penguin Design Award for Adult Non-Fiction Cover, Burrows echoed the novel’s twists and turns, the road and the Teletype paper used within its production and married them all beautifully into a concise yet visually powerful image. The way the graphic interacts with the book’s title, in Burrows own words, emphasises “the domineering, unpredictable nature of the road both literally and figuratively”.
Fran: Palo Alto by James Franco
“There was a moon and it was on the water. A miniature moon rocking on the little waves. I always see nice images like that but I don’t know what to do with them. I guess you share them with someone. Or you write them down in a poem. I had so many of those little images, but I never shared them or wrote any of them down.” – Excerpt from ‘Palo Alto’Miriam Rosenbloom’s illustration for the cover of James Franco’s collection of short stories, Palo Alto, looks like an unassuming doodle when first viewed. Yet, the image truly comes to life when printed in blue foil on the cover of the book; testament to how important quality, thoughtful print process still is.
Ezra: Hemingway and the Sea Series
“He was sorry for the birds, especially the small delicate dark terns that were always flying and looking and almost never finding, and he thought, the birds have a harder life than we do except for the robber birds and the heavy strong ones. Why did they make birds so delicate and fine as those sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel?” – Excerpt from ‘The Old Man and the Sea’Student designer Kajsa Klaesén, created this stunning series as part of a School of Visual Arts project. Having read Hemingway’s books, she created a minimal and structured pattern that links directly to how often the sea is referenced within the story. Through her use of colour and the clever manipulation of white space, she has created sophisticated and sympathetic housing for such classic literature.