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.”