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Creating a Penguin Student Design Awards Book Cover for a Contemporary Marketplace

Developing my book cover design for Penguin Student Design Awards has required me to look into how existing book covers are constructed. Prior to developing three of my 100 Thumbnails further, I have conducted some research into influential works.

Initially I have been looking into Penguin Book designs and designer Jim Stoddart to see how this world renowned publishing house designs their iconic covers. Their composition and layout is carefully set out to allow for continuity between book covers. I hadn't realised the amount of detail required in notes alongside these compositional layouts to instruct different departments within Penguin design to keep fluidity in design between each.

Here are some examples of Jim Stoddart's work:

His simplistic photographic elements are bold and organised, symmetrical and clearly carefully constructed for maximum aesthetic appeal. The 'Together' Cover uses contemporary typography and so shows the time this books was published as being modern. It could therefore stand out from other books in the same genre in books stores. This cover's careful use of photographic lighting seems to emphasises the shiny metal against the natural textured background.

Having objects in both these cover designs which are ordinary are therefore relatable for consumers as they can identify a memory or experience with what they see. I would like to use a similar idea in my cover design, finding something that is recognisable and so relatable to include in my design.

Above: My cover design experiment

Narrowing down my 100 thumbnails, with this idea of use of object in mind, I chose two designs to experiment with creating on Photoshop. One is a telephone hanging from the cord, referencing the racial hate hangings which are a key factor of 'Noughts & Crosses' - the book I am designing my cover for.

I am contemplating using Matthew Sporzynski’s work (below) as inspiration to create an origami style telephone from old newspapers or letters and photographing it to add to my cover. Although, this may be too time consuming for this short brief.

Above: Matthew Sporzynski’s work

The Photoshop cover design, using images which are all sourced from online, looks quite like a basic manufactured design, I don’t feel a sense of excitement when I look at it my telephone cover design. This could be because the typography doesn’t interact or work with the illustrations because the alignment is not balanced.

Above: My cover design developments

I created various experiments for my second idea focusing on roses (inspired by the pivotal points in the book involving a rose garden). I used a photo I already have of a watery bubbly texture to overlay the roses because it looks distorted and adds unusual textural details which I like. The image is of monochrome version of my photograph of hair gel and food dye mixed together which I took at College for a ‘Challenging Traditional Representation’ project which fits this book’s themes! I altered the Blending Modes of the type and the rose image I inputted from the internet so that the texture can be seen through them.

I struggled to find a balance between the textural background and the need to have clearly legible text, either titles or space for blurb. Although I felt that the vertical bold Sans Serif text (see second image above). But in the group 1 to 1 session my peers felt that it was difficult to read. It was suggested that I could use the same font, but use a more conventional layout as the other imagery on the rose cover is complex. It was useful to continue to consider how my book cover could be marketed and the audience, so that when I am finishing my designs it is not only a working cover, but appeals to the target market of older children/young teenagers/young adults.

My use of Penguin books style minimalistic use of image and text in my later experiment works well I think as it's modern, bright and vibrant and also links to the book narrative - all important when competing against other books in the marketplace.

...Continued development on my next blog post...

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