1. Penguin Great Ideas series 4 designed by David Pearson (and a few others).

    I’m not sure why I’ve been seeing lots of these covers on tumblr today (been a few years since their release), but it’s always a pleasure to see any of the cover designs from the 100 ‘Great Ideas' books published by Penguin between 2004 and 2010. Unlike most graphic design projects I find it gets better every time you see it.

    It got me thinking that the Great Ideas series is probably my all time favorite design project, and here is why;

    - Each book is unique, meaning that the style is due to contextual appropriateness rather than trends or personal preference.

    - Despite being part of a series there is no pointless consistency between the information on the covers. Some have more than would normally be expected, others way less, but in each case it is for the right effect, which allows for clever ideas where possible (see the ‘An Apology For Idlers’ cover).

    - The small size, cheap paper and limited colour make them more striking yet cheaper to produce, proving that appealing design doesn’t always need any fancy tricks.

    - Many of them are a celebration of the sort of pre digital typography I love, but that is generally quite unappreciated by most.

    - They make very intelligent and intelectual books, that often have lacklustre covers, into objects of beauty and desire.

    I could go on, but I’ll end with the point that I think makes me like them most; that all the designs are very clearly born from a deep appreciation and love of design history. Making a design contemporary or trendy is easy, but making it classic is much harder, and I think it’s what the Great Ideas series does so well.

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    Two lectures from book designers for your enjoyment!

    In the past year and a half I’ve been lucky enough to see Chip Kidd speak at TYPO, and had one lecture and one practical workshop with David Pearson at NUCA (more on that here). Two immensely talented book designers, but two very different people. David is humble and very honest, while Chip is flamboyant and hilarious. But they both do amazing work and give great insight into the world of book design. 

    Interestingly Chip Kidd talks about ‘type 101’, your first brief at design school being to create type that is what it says, this was indeed the first thing I did at uni! Also his apple story (show me or tell me, not both) from his own days at art school links is very poignant advice for all designers, and David directly refers to it in his talk too. He also shares this old penguin cover, which I think is a brilliant example of showing not telling.

  3. Last Thursday and Friday I was very lucky to have book designer David Pearson visiting NUCA for a design workshop. Above is a selection of his covers, mainly for the Penguin Great Ideas Series, for which he is best known. I’m an admirer of his designs, so It was really exciting to have the chance to work with him. Last year he came and did a lecture about his work, which you can read about along with a few other past posts about him here.

    As for the workshop itself, it was brilliant. David is a very humble and friendly guy, totally enthusiastic about helping people with their work. He always saw the positives in everything everybody did, even when they were at very early rough stages. I had hoped to ask him some pertinent questions to post on here, but we ended up just chatting about other book designers and blogs and that sort of thing. I’m pretty pleased with the work thats come out of it as well, I had expected more input from David but he liked them and didn’t want to meddle in my work, but I guess thats a pretty good endorsement!

    I don’t need to waste any time telling you how great he is at book cover design, because his work speaks for itself! But I can say he is also a really nice guy and refreshingly optimistic, his attitude was that less books are being published so all the more reason (and demand) for them to be more beautiful and better designed! Sounds like he has a very busy schedule, so its not all doom and gloom.

    I still hope to post an interview with someone on here one day, but if you fancy reading an interview with David Pearson why not read this one here from The Casual Optimist

  4. One of my favorite non design blogs Spitalfields Life has a post today about my favorite book cover designer David Pearson as he has done the cover and typesetting for the blogs upcoming book. Give the article a read here, always a really well written and interesting blog.

    Above are just a small selection of covers designed by David Pearson, the top two are ones I’ve never seen before. Definitely check out his website if you aren’t familiar with his work!

    David came to Norwich to give a lecture which I saw last year, which you can read about here, I think he might be coming again this year too hopefully. Lots more previous posts of his work here.

  5. Lots of book cover posts lately! My last one mentioned that I was waiting for The Casual Optimist to post his favorite covers of 2011, well he posted them the day after;

    http://www.casualoptimist.com/2011/12/13/favourite-covers-of-2011/

    Great choices! I like the four I’ve posted by Jason Booher, David PearsonCoralie Bickford-Smith and Gray318

    Go ahead on follow The Casual Optimist on tumblr! One of the best bogs around!

    http://casualoptimist.tumblr.com/

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    Posters of Fortune from the Type Directors Club, is a new project where 20 different fortune cookies were sent to 20 different designers who turned them into amazing typographic posters. The posters are available to see and bid on at the TDC in New York.
Some brilliant designers involved, the one above is by David Pearson who I had a lecture off not long a go.

    Posters of Fortune from the Type Directors Club, is a new project where 20 different fortune cookies were sent to 20 different designers who turned them into amazing typographic posters. The posters are available to see and bid on at the TDC in New York.

    Some brilliant designers involved, the one above is by David Pearson who I had a lecture off not long a go.

  7. text
    David Pearson
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    David Pearson, designed with type found at St Bride Library

    David Pearson, designed with type found at St Bride Library

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    David Pearson

    David Pearson

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    Phil Baines & David Pearson

    Phil Baines & David Pearson

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    http://theoinglis.tumblr.com/post/2979587245/davidpearsonlecture
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    David Pearson made these brilliant covers by first designing the type on the computer like this, then he sends it off to a company who make rubber stamps (think he uses this company). They end up like this and this, then he prints with them using black ink mixed with water and oil to get different effects. Then he scans the prints in and adds different textures, achieving this, which I think is rather nice.
Please read my full article on David Pearson here

    David Pearson made these brilliant covers by first designing the type on the computer like this, then he sends it off to a company who make rubber stamps (think he uses this company). They end up like this and this, then he prints with them using black ink mixed with water and oil to get different effects. Then he scans the prints in and adds different textures, achieving this, which I think is rather nice.

    Please read my full article on David Pearson here

  13. text
    Today I finally had my lecture from book designer David Pearson, I posted about it a few weeks back but it got postponed. Was a brilliant lecture, easily the best so far and will take some beating. His work is amazing, he was really passionate about it and book design in general, past and present.
 He spoke for a long time about working at penguin and its history, he was actually behind the book "Penguin By Design" , he proposed the whole concept of the book and designed it as well as commissioning his ex-tutor and typography expert Phil Baines to write it. As research for the book he looked through the Penguin archives (this x20 I think he said), looking at every single one in chronological order. He did a very funny slideshow of the covers that came after Penguin dropped its traditional grid and suddenly there were circles everywhere for no apparent reason (e.g. this, this, this and this), bit of a bad patch if you ask me. But I hate pointless modernist circles.
 He was also in charge of the design of the Penguin Great Ideas series, which is a series of 20 short books that have changed the world. The first series sold so well that a further 4 series were commissioned, meaning a total of 100 books with each series of 20 having there own colour scheme. He wanted to create a series that felt more collectible, the 100 spines together create a pattern, the idea of books being collectible and tactile objects is something constantly in his work.
 The covers of the great ideas series are all strongly typographic, referencing and copying styles relevant to the subject or period of the book. He made a point of showing covers he had designed next to the pieces that had inspired them, often they were very similar and he explained that copying a style is sometimes the right thing to do rather than a crime against design. He was given a lot of freedom by Penguin, not needing the logo or publisher on the cover (a later German version of the series demanded the publishers name on and are less visually pleasing subsequently), and apparently designing books by dead authors is easier as they cant object! Every book in the series has a false letterpress effect with the text and details indented, giving them a better physical feel. Each cover is very different and overall I really love his great ideas series.
 The success of ‘Great Ideas’ made Pearson’s name, and eventually he left penguin to start his own studio (although I believe he shares space with We Made this). Penguin still came to him with projects and involved him in all the remaining Great Ideas series as well as Great Loves, Great Journeys (apparently in publishing if one thing goes well they will do it to death), Pocket Penguins (the spines seen above) and Popular Classics (these were at first nice colours but penguin feared they would be more popular than the expensive versions so he made them a bright yellowy green to make them less appealing). 
Apart from penguin he has designed 2 series of patterned covers for french publishers Zulma, a re-issue of books by Cormac McCarthy and also tried his hand at publishing books himself as White’s Books.
Anyway he’s a brilliant designer and it was a very inspirational lecture, il be posting any book covers I can find by him which I can give extra insight to from hearing him talk today, and maybe a little bit about the process behind them that he revealed also. You can see more of his work here on his flickr (as well as some of his vintage design collection)
(If you just read all that thankyou! Sure iv missed out lots but I didn’t make many notes at the time)
Theo Inglis
28.1.11

    Today I finally had my lecture from book designer David Pearson, I posted about it a few weeks back but it got postponed. Was a brilliant lecture, easily the best so far and will take some beating. His work is amazing, he was really passionate about it and book design in general, past and present.

    He spoke for a long time about working at penguin and its history, he was actually behind the book "Penguin By Design" , he proposed the whole concept of the book and designed it as well as commissioning his ex-tutor and typography expert Phil Baines to write it. As research for the book he looked through the Penguin archives (this x20 I think he said), looking at every single one in chronological order. He did a very funny slideshow of the covers that came after Penguin dropped its traditional grid and suddenly there were circles everywhere for no apparent reason (e.g. this, this, this and this), bit of a bad patch if you ask me. But I hate pointless modernist circles.

    He was also in charge of the design of the Penguin Great Ideas series, which is a series of 20 short books that have changed the world. The first series sold so well that a further 4 series were commissioned, meaning a total of 100 books with each series of 20 having there own colour scheme. He wanted to create a series that felt more collectible, the 100 spines together create a pattern, the idea of books being collectible and tactile objects is something constantly in his work.

    The covers of the great ideas series are all strongly typographic, referencing and copying styles relevant to the subject or period of the book. He made a point of showing covers he had designed next to the pieces that had inspired them, often they were very similar and he explained that copying a style is sometimes the right thing to do rather than a crime against design. He was given a lot of freedom by Penguin, not needing the logo or publisher on the cover (a later German version of the series demanded the publishers name on and are less visually pleasing subsequently), and apparently designing books by dead authors is easier as they cant object! Every book in the series has a false letterpress effect with the text and details indented, giving them a better physical feel. Each cover is very different and overall I really love his great ideas series.

    The success of ‘Great Ideas’ made Pearson’s name, and eventually he left penguin to start his own studio (although I believe he shares space with We Made this). Penguin still came to him with projects and involved him in all the remaining Great Ideas series as well as Great Loves, Great Journeys (apparently in publishing if one thing goes well they will do it to death), Pocket Penguins (the spines seen above) and Popular Classics (these were at first nice colours but penguin feared they would be more popular than the expensive versions so he made them a bright yellowy green to make them less appealing). 

    Apart from penguin he has designed 2 series of patterned covers for french publishers Zulma, a re-issue of books by Cormac McCarthy and also tried his hand at publishing books himself as White’s Books.

    Anyway he’s a brilliant designer and it was a very inspirational lecture, il be posting any book covers I can find by him which I can give extra insight to from hearing him talk today, and maybe a little bit about the process behind them that he revealed also. You can see more of his work here on his flickr (as well as some of his vintage design collection)

    (If you just read all that thankyou! Sure iv missed out lots but I didn’t make many notes at the time)

    Theo Inglis

    28.1.11

  14. text
    I have a lecture on Friday from one of my favorite book cover designers, one of my favorite areas of design! very exciting, would have posted way more of them but his flickr doesn’t allow it boo. Can’t wait. Worth looking at all his stuff especially the penguin great ideas series.
http://www.davidpearsondesign.com/
&
http://www.flickr.com/photos/32610318@N06/sets/

    I have a lecture on Friday from one of my favorite book cover designers, one of my favorite areas of design! very exciting, would have posted way more of them but his flickr doesn’t allow it boo. Can’t wait. Worth looking at all his stuff especially the penguin great ideas series.

    http://www.davidpearsondesign.com/

    &

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/32610318@N06/sets/

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