A major source of inspiration to me is the book cover design of Robert Jonas, or ‘Jonas’, as he signed his work (or ‘Rob-Jon’ if he happened to be embarrassed by the end result).

Working from New York, Jonas determined the look of the Penguin/Signet series during the post-war years.

His cover designs display a mastery in translating the essence of a text with purely symbolic and graphic means, leaving the reader to piece together the image’s meaning.

His covers had enormous psychological power, but also had no trouble reaching their audience from even the busiest newsstands.

It is important to remember that picture-led covers would not be seen en masse in Britain for at least another ten years, and even then a similar approach by the legendary Abram Games was denounced as a lurid alternative to the tried and trusted typographic covers of the time.

Jonas’s covers were eventually replaced by the frothy pulp realism of artists such as James Avati and book covers would never be the same again, but for ten years Jonas’s covers were a shining light in US book publishing.

Latest articles