Penguin Random House Book Brief

For our next brief we have been given the task of redesigning a book cover. The briefs are set by random house and there are 3 different ones to choose from; Clockwork Orange- Anthony Burgess, How to Be a woman- Caitlyn Moran and Emil and the Detectives- Kåstner. All of these books id never actually heard of let alone even read so my first port of call was to actually find out what they were about so that I could determine which one I would want to design a cover for. I done a little bit of pre research on the internet but felt I actually needed to go find them in a book shop.

So I took a trip to Waterstones. The first thing that struck me when I walked in was that I had no clue how to find a specific book in a book shop. It made me realise how much I rely on the internet and the help of amazon for sourcing my books. To my embarrassment I did have to ask the shop assistant to point me in the right direction for each of the books, but I’m making it my mission to be able to find a book without any help next time I need one.

I ended up finding two of the books that I needed A Clockwork Orange and Emil and the detectives, because of my prior research around the themes of the books and the fact that I felt the best way to generate ideas for my design would be to read them I felt that these weren’t necessarily the books for me. However I am glad that I took a trip to the book shop because it gave me the chance to see first had the designs of books that are currently on the shelves. I picked up the books that on first glance really stood out to me a photographed them so that I could analyse why the designs caught my eye at a later date. Although I didn’t find the last book, How to be a woman, after reading the blurb etc. I feel that this is a book more suited to me so I did order if from Amazon but found the place where it would have been kept in the shop.

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Anthony Burgess- A Clockwork Orange

Because I haven’t read the book my immediate reaction to this cover was why the glass of milk, although I feel that the reason for the image would become apparent upon reading the book I feel that it adds a real sense of mystery to the book because on first glance it is not obvious what the book is about. I do however feel that the cover is quite bland and uninteresting. I wouldn’t necessarily have picked this up but because I was looking for the book I did. I do feel tho that with classic books like these that the majority of people have read or know about already sometimes less could be more and that a simple pictures like this is acceptable.


Emil and the Detectives- Erich Kastner

Although there were several different versions of this book on the shelf this was the one which stood out to me. I think the most striking part that really grabs attention is the bright yellow contrasted with rich sepia toned image and text. Because it is a children’s book I feel that an appropriate images has been used because a child can immediately relate to the boy on the cover in some way. It also doesn’t give away too much about the book and only hints at a few themes from the book which I feel adds a sense on mystery. The cover also have a significant amount of white space making the cover easy to look at and the information on the front easily digestible by the lower age range that the book is targeted at.

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How to Tie a Tie (A gentleman’s guide to getting dressed)

This book caught my attention because it was the first one which really emulated and said what the book was about without having to read the title. From first glance it was obvious that the book was for men and that it had something to do with clothing or fabric. This is because an iconic tie pattern has been used which we can all relate to either ourselves or a male figure in our lives, the designer has used an appropriate image that is not too over-exaggertaed but hints slightly at the theme of the book. One thing that I don’t really like about the design is the fact that the blurb and barcode have been stuck on the back with a white sticker, I feel that this information could have been better of included within the design rather than feeling like an after thought.


Last Man In Tower- Aravind Adiga

I think the thing that stood out to me most about this front cover was how bright it was in comparison to a lot of others that were using black as a their prime colour or very muted colours. I did at first find the title difficult to make sense of due to the positioning on the type but on reflection I think it is a really good way of using type as image to convey the message of the book. I think maybe the cover is a little crowded as the typography is fairly closely spaced but it definitely caught my attention from the shelf.


Little Girl Gone- Alexandra Burt

First thing that struck me about this book cover was its simplicity. A lot of the other covers were crammed with visuals and typography and quotes about the book but this seemed to be the one that was the “plainest” of them all. I think the use of a simple vector based imagery is really effective. It gives a small insight into what the book is about without giving too much away as well as using a simple 3 colour palette which is easy for the viewer to look at and make sense of. One criticism I have about the cover is the line of type which says “home is where the harm is” at first I was unsure wether this is was party of the title of the book due to its large point size you feel it is an important piece of information but from research it turns out it is not, and it feels slightly unneeded. I also think the point size of the type is too big on the back of the book and that the design could have been improved by continuing it on to the spine and back of the book.

These are a few of the other books that caught my attention;

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Although the book shop didnt actually have How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, I went to the section where it woulc have been to see the type of imagery and style of deisgn the books in the same section are using. The book is in the humour section and alot of them were written by comedians so quite often the books featured the pictures of the comedians, however others did feature comical and quirky illustrations. The typography was more often than not very fun and script like and the covers were often busy and full of quotes and imagery.



Bag It Auction

Really pleased that I managed to get to the auction and help support the 3rd years in their attempt to raise money for the graduate show. Felt that it was important to show my support as a 2nd year and make the effort to go because I will be in this position myself next year. It also gave me a chance to see how it was run and put together and this way I can help contribute ideas to next years fundraiser. I really didn’t know what to expect before I went but I was pleasantly surprised to see such a high turn out of people as well as people bidding considerable amounts of money for some of the pieces. Another thing that I really liked was the bag of goodies that I purchased. Its clear to see that the 3rd years had put a lot of effort in to the contents of the bag which included items such as business cards, postcards, notebook etc which was all branded with their “bag it auction” logo. It was also a clever way of networking and getting themselves noticed and potential free lance work as they had their own business cards in their too.

It was also my first time bidding on something and winning! as I student we all know that sometimes money can be an issue however I felt that it was a worth while cause to put my money towards and Im glad I did, as I managed to pick up a series of really interesting Mandala prints and for £30 (£10 a piece) I cant really grumble at that.


Faith Swann- Series of Modern Mandala drawings.

These straight away caught my eye when I saw them at the auction. Just by looking at them you get a really sense of just how much time go’s in to creating something that is so intricate and delicate. Even though they are so delicate because of there eye catching appeal they do have such an immediate impact.

Cant wait to frame these and put them only wall!

Pick Me Up

Really glad I made the trip down to pick me up this year, although in my opinion it wasn’t as good as the previous year that I went there was still a lot of good visual material to look at and take inspiration from. The main focus is on traditional printing methods this year especially screen printing and this has given me ideas relation to my current studio module brief to create a timeline. I think using screen printing could be really interesting and this is something that I hope to develop and experiment with. A big thing that I noticed as well was that a lot of companies are turning to Instagram as a form of social network to branch out. Although Instagram has been popular for a while I hadn’t necessarily seen it as a place to gain inspiration from however my opinion has changed. I made sure to follow the pages of the companies I noticed had Instagram pages and will hopefully gain fitter inspiration from doing this. I also made a list of artists and designers that I want to further research and look at;

  • Joby Carter
  • Super Graph
  • Hello Dodo
  • Pinky
  • Ladies of Letterpress

MOMA New York

Probably the most relevant museum to me in regards to Graphic Design and Art in general because it contained a lot of artwork that I had either researched myself or been talked about during lectures. Was really nice to see some of the art work in the “flesh” because quite often you only get to see it on the internet or in books and it doesn’t necessarily have the same impact that the artist may have originally liked.


Roy Litchtenstein: Drowning Girl, 1963

Have never see any of Litchensteins work apart from on the internet or in books where because of the size of them they look perfectly painted in the fact that they have no imperfections. However when you look closely you can actually see that the hand painted dots although near enough perfect do have some imperfections I also didn’t realise how big they were.

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Andy Warhol: Gold Marilyn Monroe, 1962 and Campbell’s Soup Cans 1962


Jackson Pollock: One: Number 31, 1950

Again I new that Pollocks work was big however I didn’t realise it was that big. Really is quite a striking piece of work because it is placed opposite the room entrance and covers the majority of the wall.


Various Posters by various artists.

Hayward Gallery and Barbican

Got a lot of relevant ideas for my Semester 2 studio module from the exhibitions and I feel that it was a worthwhile trip up to London to gain primary research.

Things that I picked up from the Hayward Gallery exhibition on History is Now: Artists take on Britain were more centred around the actual layout of the exhibition itself;

  • Exhibition was categorised by the 7 different artist, every room/section was the work from that artist making it easy to see the relationship between pieces from the same person.
  • There was a general sense of flow around each room/section because it was mainly organised in chronological order around the room or sorted into different areas such as photography or art or structures.
  • All exhibitions included different subject matter showing that a catalogue/collection of items can be formed of many different subject matters they don’t all have to be photography etc.
  • Every item had an information piece underneath it which stated, title, date, person, and some even had extra information about the piece.

The barbican exhibition on Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector was one which I managed to engage with more fully that the one at the Hayward Gallery. Have always found myself collecting different bits of printed material and “hoarding” it but I now feel that it could potentially be an “Artist” thing. Was really intrigued to see the variety of different things people would collect especially stuffed animals. Another thing that stuck out to me was that the items from different artists were organised in different ways. Some has a system where they were organised into varieties such as shells and postcards and others had no real system and were almost just jumbled on to the shelves. Has show me that different people can catalogue/organise things into different ways and it is still ok it is just down to peoples ways of looking and seeing as to how they are interpreted.

Things that I’m going to take forward of the catalogue brief are:

  • There are different ways to catalogue things and it is up to me as part of my research to develop my own system that is applicable to the catalogue I am making.
  • Need to research these different ways and see how and why they are effective if they are or not.

Guggenheim Museum New York

On my recent trip to the Big Apple with my university class we visited the Guggenheim Museum. The first thing that struck me about this museum was how unusual the shape of the building is. It really catches your attention as you walk up the sidewalks of new york because its white circular design contrasts with the concrete tower blocks that are next to it. It is something that you really can’t miss and I found myself wondering what was going to await me inside.


Once inside it really is a bit of a tardis, It is a lot more spacious that what you imagine it would be from the outside and what surprised me was that the circular design of the outside was reflected in the inside. You immediately find yourself looking upwards to the ceiling as your eyes are drawn around the room in circles to view a really pretty and striking roof.


I was lucky that day that the sun was shining and I was able to capture the true beauty and detail of the roof as well as capturing the shadows and highlights that are created by the buildings very interesting layout and design.

At the time of my visit the Exhibition On Kawara- Silence was being shown, an exhibition that documents how On Kawara was fascinated with the passing of time and how he chose to document this in many different ways. The museum itself really helps to document this, due to the slope that swirls around and around the inside of the building you yourself as a viewer feel a passing of time like the hands on a clock.

On Kawara- Silence

I really enjoyed seeing this set of work, Kawara had managed to devise a consistent method that allowed him to document daily what he was doing or where he was just by the use of paintings, newspapers and postcards. He has formed him self a catalogue of artworks that are organised mainly by date but a lot of the time by other factors as well such as typography and colour. The whole exhibition has really helped to give me ideas for the semester 2 studio breif on cataloguing as I believe I can take a lot of inspiration from the way Kawara documented, analysed and  catalogued his day to day life.

His “Today Series” painting especially stick out to me as pieces of inspiration because of the way they are constructed and composed. The typography is changed from painting to painting depending on where Kawara was at the time, the typography that is chosen for each place is really significant because it communicates a real sense of a change of place.

On Kawara is someone who I’m going to further research in relation to my catalogue brief because he himself has effectively catalogued his own life via different methods and us now as viewers have a catalogue of the different people he met, different places he visited etc.

Trip To Museum Quarter

For me the trip to the museum quarter really gave me a much better understanding of the area as a whole. It allowed me to get a sense of the type of stuff that go’s on there as well as exploring the area and getting a better idea of where everything is situated within the area.

I was able to gain primary research in the form of photographs which I will be able to refer to at a later date. The ones that I think will be partially useful will be the photos of the outsides of the buildings and the architecture. These are definitely ones that I want to draw from later on in the project as I think that they will create particularly nice illustrations.


Front of the V&A


Science Museum with pedestrianised high street


Natural History Museum

One of the the aspects that really stood out to me was that the entire area was bursting with all sorts of different designs and cultures, it does not have a definitive identity and I feel that this is something that I need to incorporate into my designs for this brief. I need to design things that would apply to everyone in that area and try not to stereotype the area to a specific area.


Maps on boards from around the area

I also took photos of the maps that are dotted around the area, they have a particularly exciting design and I want to analyse them further to see what inspiration I can take from them as well whether this is colour scheme, typography or even the road network of the Museum Quarter.

All in all I think the London trip was a success in allowing me to collect primary research for a lot of the new brief and I feel that I most definitely have material which I can start to develop and use to create ideas.