If you follow my Cover Love series then you would know that I have a bit of a thing for typography-based cover designs. In the past I’ve praised the virtues of the ‘Art of the Novella’ series from Melville House, hailed the glory that is the Faber 80 Beckett Series from Faber Books, and now, in this latest Cover Love feature, I pay homage to a gorgeous soon-to-be-launched ‘rebadged’ series of titles from Penguin Classics, which is being published in partnership with AID’s awareness fund, (RED).
Featured in this Cover Love post are the first eight titles which will hit the bookshops from 20th May, and I think, in terms of design at least, that they are exquisite. As you can see for yourself all the covers are primarily based on typography, but each design is also based on a pertinently chosen quote from each book which forms the word art for each cover. What I find particularly striking about most of the cover art in this collection however (aside from the vivid red colour accent of course, which triumphantly broadcasts the primary raison d’etre of the series), is that the typography has been allowed to ‘bleed’ into Penguin’s normally ‘untouchable’ sacrosanct title-band in the lower portion of the cover, which I think is deliciously rebellious, especially for titles which come under the mantle of the Penguin Classics range :).
Interestingly, the cover art is the product of more than one creative hand, with each cover having been designed by a different designer. Artists range from in-house designers to commissioned individuals, and included are ‘old favourites’ of mine here at RobAroundBooks, such as Coralie Bickford-Smith (The Secret Agent) and Jonathan Gray aka Gray318 (Notes From Underground).
Out of all of the eight covers pictured above I’m probably most drawn in an aesthetic sense towards Gray’s cover for Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground (that’s the cover bottom right, above). For me it’s definitely the best of the bunch in terms of design, with the cover for Emile Zola’s Therese Raquin (created by Penguin’s own in-house art director, Jim Stoddart) coming in a close second. For once Bickford-Smith hasn’t moved me as much as she has done in the past with her creation for Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent (you may remember her work on the ‘Gothic Red’ series blew me away), but even so she’s still manages to rustle up a beautiful design. As for the rest of the cover designers, here’s a rundown:
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – cover designed by FUEL
- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James – cover designed by Studio Frith
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – cover designed by Stefanie Posavec, Penguin
- Dracula by Bram Stoker – cover designed by Non-Format
- The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton – cover designed by Nathan Burton
So that’s a quick look at the first eight titles in Penguin Classic’s new (RED) series which, to recap, are published on the 20th May. If you want any more info, clicking on any of the covers above will take you directly to Penguin’s product page for each book.
Finally, although it was the Penguin Classic’s newsletter that first brought my attention to this new series, most of the information for this post was gathered from that most excellent of websites – Creative Review. So full credit to them.
So fellow readers, what are your thoughts on Penguin’s new (RED) range? I’d love to know what you think.