Penguin – Starting the Penguin Competition

So Christmas is over and its time to start getting into the next project, the Penguin Book Cover Competition. I had a lot of fun last year coming up with a design for A Clockwork Orange so I am looking forward to getting into this years project.

The choice for which cover to design this year (as set by my lecturers) was between Truman Capote’s infamous In Cold Blood and Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾. Honestly, In Cold Blood caught my eye instantly. I have never read the book or really heard of it, although I have heard of Truman Capote, but after finding out what it was about and the dark and gruesome story behind it I knew that it was the cover I wanted to design. There is also a slight connection to my dissertation which focuses largely on the horror genre, which In Cold Blood is partly recognised as.

The original book cover for In Cold Blood is fairly iconic and I am a fan of its simplicity. The sharp, Gothic font and the dark red drop serves as a bold combination. It is in some ways similar to the original cover of The Godfather, both featuring a striking typeface and simple graphical element.

To look for more inspiration I went into my own archives of great cover designs that I have been collecting for the past couple of years, and pulled out a couple that I believe are appropriate for this project. I have always been a fan of bold typefaces dominant typefaces or beautiful illustrations. A redesign of the Lord of the Flies by one of my favourite illustrators Levente Szabo really blew me away (as all of his illustrations do). The silhouette of the pigs head violently placed on the spike with the dark red landscape inside of it almost perfectly illustrates the themes of the book and suggests the nature of its content.

I also think the cover for Robert Bloch’s Psycho is an aggressive and striking work of typography that, just like Szabo’s cover, brilliantly portrays the violent nature of the book.

Now that I have found my inspiration I can start to research and analyse the themes of the book and consume any content that the story has produced in order to form my design work. Depending on how my other deadlines go (most notably my dissertation) I may decide to attempt to design another book cover in the competition, but for now I am going to focus on illustrating this compelling story and making sure that I create something that will challenge my ability while also becoming a strong edition to my portfolio.


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