Design Statement…

When I designed the cover, for the 2017 Penguin Student Design Awards. I tried to follow what the brief was asking for – an “imaginative concept”… “appeal to a contemporary readership”… “ fresh perspective and to avoid repeating the obvious iconography”.

To do this I looked back at previous covers and saw that most of them had similar iconography – A key reason I would imagine why they are asking for a change.

To make my covers stand out I looked at what the current covers had, and what they did not have. So my ideas for the book cover would come from a new perspective. I Knew from my own personal experiences that this book was often read by teenages aged 14-16 as apart of their GCSE or other secondary year education and though it would be a good idea to try and design something that suits this audiences that I knew the book has. I also wanted my cover to be self referencing and have a deeper meaning for people that have already read the book – as this is a design choice what I think makes a cover really stands out.


One of the main themes I took from the book – and something I wanted to focus on – was the incidences of youth and growing up in such a hostile place, as seen in the children characters. But mainly scout. To show I used a rather literal symbol of rope to show the parales and juxtaposition between the two – A rope swing, what is used by Scout and Jem in to play showing their incense and youth connected on the other side of the rope with a Noose to show the tormatic times and place they live in – and also link back to another theme of the book, the racism and race relations. I Decided to make this cover design more flat and simplistic as I thought it would look more effective and fitted the brief for a new readership. And although I used a repeated iconography of the Rope Swing I believe the way I used it and the context is something different and what hasn’t been done before and matches the brief for an “Imaginative concept”.


For the Font choices for the font Cover I wanted something to work in harmony with the flat design esques cover design for this I decided to use the Bold “Menlo”. As it worked with the flat design I had and also was very striking and caught the eye, what I thought would be good as it would lead them the the main illustration of the design cover.

For the font I also added a grundy decaying off white texture to one help the cover and the typeparagraph but also to link to the setting of the book, Maycome, and the people and ideas that reside in it. As like the texture their mindsets are very outdated and decaying. It is also quite a literal references to maycomb as the town, and I believe the majority of america at this time, were currently in or coming out of the “Great Depression” so their isn’t a lot of money causing the worn down look of the book. Another character that could be linked to this texture is Boo Radley – and the Radley house what is one of the main building in the book that is show as decaying and old, for the previous reasons and more.

The other type I used for the Spine and Backcover was “Capin” what felt like a lighter and thinner version of of “Menlo” and thus worked very well together. I choose to use it on the back cover as their was a lot more text and I felt it was easier to reed.




For the Back Cover Design I looked at the colours that I had already used for the rope design, what I had in arranged in a pile/stacking shape using the blend tool. The colours that I had reminded me of different skin colours, with a lighter pink shade transitioning down to a darker brown shade. I thought this was a very simple way of self referencing the book’s themes on skin colour and something that wasn’t super apparent on first glance. Also the 4 brush strokes fitted the 3 paragraphs of text and the barcode box nicely.


I choose the colour as I thought it would stand out and immediately catch the eye and appeal to a new audiences.


To make the cover look more balanced and Harmonious I also made each element central (to their relevant area; Front cover, Spine and Back cover)




What Makes A Book cover Timeless…



I’m writing this while in the middle of researching over book cover to try and get inspiration for my own design, and trying to drown out loose women with “Miles David ‘Round About Midnight”.

As I’m not as well versed in book cover designers I simply google a generic term like “Best Book Cover Design” and opened up the first 3 links… my reasoning was if their SEO was good enough to show up in such a generic search like this than the content must be good.

The first link, “The 50 Coolest Bookcover” by Shortlist I have already seen and is where I got a majority of book covers for my other post on Book Cover Research.

The Second, “The 20 Best Book Cover of 2015 (So Far) on, was A new page for me for me and featured a lot of covers that I had not seen before… a majority of them I didn’t love – When compared to the “Shortlist” list.

The third and final page was a Book Archive – A collection of book covers, all of which I though were superb.

This got me thinking, What makes a design good or bad. And what will make it timeless?

To discuss this and try to get an idea of what works and what doesn’t for myself I will analyse and compare two covers. One from Book Cover Archive and one from the Paste Magazine article. Doing this will hopefully give and you, the reader’s. An insight into what works and what doesn’t.


I would liked to make a quick note before starting that all these points are my opinion on what is good – and this is all subjective . Also I would like to note that the Paste Magazine article could have more filler in it as websites love to make top 10 or 20 list even if their was only 3 or 4 good covers so this list could potentially be full of filler designs but in the article to pad it out…


Also for a bit more context into this experiment I would like to note that I have not read every of these books and my judgement is based only off the cover – So deeper or contextual meaning built within the cover may go over my head and I can only speculate on them. I am judging them as if I was in a book shop and see have these two books in my hand and I have to pick one – Which one grabs my attention more? Which one will I buy?… I am judging a book exclusively by it’s cover.












Here are my two cover I have picked.

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From Paste Magazine: Disclaimer by Renée Knight. Designed by Sunil Manchikanti.

And from Book Cover Archive: Alena: A Novel by Rachel Pastan. Designed by Abby Weintraub.



For me, the first time I looked at their two covers it was easy to tell which one I liked more. Alena cover seems more eye catching and more professional… and well overall better. It has a cleaner look although still having a lot going on – like the textured water background and multiple colours. I Think this is because of harmony and balances to the cover, this alone with the bold primary colours on the front with a nice textured paint design works well with the background as the two aren’t usually placed together and this creates a more striking and unique image.

When compared to “Disclaimer” what has some of the same elements in theory, A Textured background & Bold Colours however this cover is a lot more cluttered and doesn’t have the same simplist effect as “Alena”. I think if I wear to make the “Disclaimer” cover I would but a higher focus on balance and making the cover look simple when in fact it is layered and detailed.   


After looking at the two I can now tell that making a more striped back cover is harder then it looks and I’ll have to but a high amount of focus on the balance and making sure that my cover isn’t empty feeling and bland.

The Breif…

For this project we are working along with penguins book annal cover design challenge, We are meant to pick from three books (To Kill a Mockingbird, In Cold Blood and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4.) and design a new book cover for them.


I have decided to pick To Kill A Mockingbird, as it’s a book a book I have already read and know the source material very well. And know how deep and varied the themes are. By already reading the book and watching the film (what is very close to the source material) I know already a few lanes that I can take my cover – Of course I’ll also re-read the book and look online for some more themes that I can use in the cover.


Penguin has given us a brief to follow – and some advice that will make our covers more appealing for their judges, what you can read below:


We would like you to design a new and classic cover for this book. The trick here will be to come at it from a fresh perspective and to avoid repeating the obvious iconography from the many previous editions in print. If you can get your hands on a copy of the book in order to get a sense of the beautiful writing, this will only help to inspire your design. The cover should feel timeless and confident, and appeal to a whole new generation of readers.


We are looking for a striking cover design that is well executed, has an imaginative concept and clearly places the book for its market. While all elements of the jacket need to work together as a cohesive whole, remember that the front cover must be effective on its own and be eye-catching within a crowded bookshop setting. It also needs to be able to work on screen for digital retailers such as Amazon.

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