Penguin turns to new artists to get books into hands of new readers

Ten artists have been paired with ten titles to create new covers for the latest Essentials books, which celebrate what Penguin considers to be the most important books from the last 100 years.

In The Country of Men by Hisham Matar. Cover by Christopher Worker
In The Country of Men by Hisham Matar. Cover by Christopher Worker

Penguin’s latest Essentials collection will be published this week with new covers commissioned to different artists as the publisher looks to “get the books into the hands of new readers” (Scroll down for images).

Essentials is an expanding series, which each year grows to include books Penguin believes to be the most important from the last 100 years.

Authors and estates wanted to try something new

Penguin senior designer Richard Bravery says that all of the authors and estates are contacted before any ideas are worked out – “and 99% of the time they are really open to trying something new”.

Some of the books are only ten years old, in which case the approach has been “a little more subtle” but many of the commissions have been painstaking and meticulous, Bravery says.

30 hand painted signs were created for the Mosquito Coast project

Bravery says: “The standout cover for sheer man-hours and process is undoubtedly Colt Bowden’s artwork for Mosquito Coast. The book itself rails against the polluted consumerist American dream and becomes a kind of bizarre road trip, so sign painting felt like a good approach for the cover.

“Colt – an artist and professional sign painter in the U.S – created more than 30 hand-painted individual signs for the cover, all linked to the novel and the journey the characters take. The result is a saturated, almost impenetrable cover, which articulates the novel perfectly,” says Bravery.

Despite the different styles employed by each artist Bravery says that overall “each feels like the companion of the other”.

“We spent a long time marrying artists to books”

His team has scoured graduate shows, exhibitions blogs and magazine to find the right artists and while many are “up-and-coming fast” like Aitch and Christopher Worker, others like Jan and Oliver Hibbert are already established in the their fields.

Each artist has been chosen for their unique approach and Bravery says: “We spend a long time marrying up artists to books, it’s the key to the series.

“It can be a long and uncertain process collaborating with someone who perhaps hasn’t worked on a novel before, but the rewards are always un-jaded and un-biased ideas.”

Perfume by Patrick Susskind. Cover by  Jan Van Der Veken
Perfume by Patrick Susskind. Cover by Jan Van Der Veken
Foe by J.M Coetze. Cover by  Odds.
Foe by J.M Coetze. Cover by Odds.
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Cover by  Ricardo Valiente
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Cover by Ricardo Valiente
A Passage to India by E.M Forster. Cover by Ali Campbell
A Passage to India by E.M Forster. Cover by Ali Campbell
Asylum by Patrick McGrath. Cover by Attak
Asylum by Patrick McGrath. Cover by Attak
Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse. Cover by Rol Overwekk
Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse. Cover by Rol Overwekk
Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud. Cover by Oliver Hibert
Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud. Cover by Oliver Hibert
Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. Cover by Aitch
Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. Cover by Aitch
The Mosquito Coast, by  Paul Theroux. Cover by  Colt Bowden
The Mosquito Coast, by Paul Theroux. Cover by Colt Bowden
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  • Tony . August 5, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Are they still looking for more?!

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