Tag Archives: design

Penguin 75: An AIGANY Panel

As I’ve mentioned before, this year is a great time to join the Penguin team – it’s the 75th anniversary of the classic paperback publisher.  Since (of course!) I feel that Penguin’s greatest strength is its design and branding philosophy, I wasn’t going to miss the chance to hear about it from some of the best creative brains in the company at last Thursday’s AIGA panel.

First of all, can I just say that AIGA kicked off the event with some hilarious and heavily-accented (do those two things go together?) moderators!  Board member Matteo Bologna, founder and president of Mucca Design Corporation, introduced Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich, an amazing book designer and creative director in his own right. You may know him as the creator of the children’s book Bembo’s Zoo (don’t miss the amazing online version!), which always reminds me of the best Type II project anyone could produce. I mean, it’s the same concept as your standard “play with letterforms” exercise, but blows every student out of the water.

Anyway, Bologna and de Cumptich got the crowd warmed up for what would continue to be a very witty discussion on the process of book cover design.

The featured guest of the evening was Paul Buckley, Executive VP and Creative Director of Penguin, not to mention editor of the featured Penguin 75 book.  Aside from jokes about his former ’90s mullet and current “Penguin-esque” bald look, Buckley had some seriously enlightening things to say about the evolution of covers.  Since Buckley was/is an illustrator as well (that’s his first love and original life plan), he’s passionate about integrating art and design, and pushing the limits of how the two can transform the surface of a book.  Although he oversees hundreds of titles per year, you can still see his mark on the direction of new and old classics, such as the mind-blowingly AWESOME Penguin Ink series featuring tattoo artists.

Bridget Jones’ Diary, illustrated by Tara McPherson

Moon Palace, illustrated by Grez at Kings Avenue Tattoo

Two of Paul’s designers also took the stage: Gregg Kulick, whose punk-rock meets kitsch sensibility is just as cool on book covers as it is on show posters, and Jim Tierney, whom you may recognize from my last post (um, what a coincidence! We’ve met! We started Penguin the same day! I really did not put any of it together until I got to this event!).  One of the most surprising things about their talks is that they showed a lot of their past work – what they did as a student, where they went after graduating, that sort of thing.  It’s both encouraging to see one’s style evolves after graduation, and intimidating that they were just as talented then.  I’m at home redo-ing my senior projects, but these dudes? Publication-ready from the start.

I spent most of the evening astounded by how many completely different versions of adult covers get made before the final is approved.  Penguin 75 showcases these shelved variations, with added commentary from the designers and authors involved. Interestingly, some of the essays are brutally honest, such as (the guru of Minnesota Lutherans) Garrison Keillor’s scathing review of his cover, Love Me.

So it was only appropriate that they brought up an author, A.M. Homes, to comment, improv-style, on the unseen covers of her novel, This Book Will Save Your Life.  I give her major props for going up in front of an auditorium of judgy discerning designers to talk about the subject they know most.  And she really held her own, keeping it light, funny and honest, and still sounding intelligent.  The panel added their “insider’s view” of the evolution of her cover, and while any number of the versions could have worked well, I think they ended up with a great result.

This Book Will Save Your Life, hardcover and paperback covers

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of Penguin 75 soon… can’t wait to hear what more authors have to say about their classics!

Designers Of The Day

Today, I’m obsessing over…

1. Geoff McFetridge

My first “find”, which I snagged from a take shelf (read: free books) on my way in to work, made up for everything that was hideous about the slush pile this morning.  I have no idea why this profile on McFetridge (published as part of a series of designers by Gas As Interface) was in the office, but we are absolutely lovin’ it.  While this L.A.-based designer with Champion Graphics creates everything from graphic posters to motion graphics/titles for films, I’m particularly loving his original wallpaper prints.

McFetridge’s book might be a bit overboard on the Helvetica, but his projects were so intriguing that I had to find out more.  Pick it up here!

2. Marian Bantjes

Ooooooh la la… if someone took every fancy trapping and visual treat and put it all in one book, it would be Bantjes’ I Wonder, which came out in gilded hardcover this month!  The exquisite integration of text and art brings to mind that this is probably the single modern book that 15th-centrury monks would still be proud of.  The price may be steep for a starving artist ($40), but all those elaborately designed pages look priceless.

Check out the rest of her projects as well… I can’t get enough of her seamless mix of materials and both old and new world design.

Thanks to Book By Its Cover for the link!

3. Rebecca Kutys

I’m not the kind of girl who has been planning her wedding since the age of 6. In fact, I’d be much happier with a lower-key ceremony than some of the events I’ve already planned in my life!  But there’s one thing that I know for sure – letterpress? It makes my heart swoon.  Don’t ask me why I’m drawn to typography in relief… I just think it makes everything elegant and personal. And if I have to spend money on anything when I get married, it’ll be on invitations like those made by Moontree Letterpress in DUMBO, Brooklyn.

It was so great to hear Kutys’ Biz Ladies post about the perfect business card on Design*Sponge today, so don’t miss going to her separate project as well, Brooklyn Social Cards.

Living In Literature: Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

Whether it’s for home decor ideas or a bright spot of color in my morning, the one blog I turn to almost daily is Design*Sponge.  And there’s no column on the website that I look forward to more than Amy Merrick‘s “Living In” (whose 1-year anniversary is today)!

Amy perfectly captures the atmosphere of all my favorite movies, and I love the idea of gaining inspiration from a story long after it ends.  While movies have more than enough visual material for products, fashion and interior design, I’m left wondering how the same exercise could be applied to other mediums, such as . . . books!

Children’s literature is remarkable because it sparks the imagination, bringing fantastic elements into the context of daily reality.  The worlds created within kids’ books can be complex with ideas, but ultimately have to be simple and tangible enough for a child to understand.

It is with this thought in mind that I bring an homage to Design*Sponge with “Living In Literature”!  I’ll showcase children’s and YA books whose characters, themes and environments can be translated to a set of products, so both you – and the little ones in your life – can carry the spirit of the book once you’ve closed its pages.


I think there’s no better way to kick off “Living In Literature” than with my favorite children’s book heroine to be inspired by: Lilly from Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, by Kevin Henkes.  Lilly has the kind of impulsive self-assurance that we often lose with age.  Even though she may not always be right, she learns a lesson in humility without losing her enthusiasm.  She’s a perfect personality to channel when you need a little burst of confidence.

For you:

list notepad $7, crown charm $52, purple purse $995 (a girl can dream…), knit dress $16, movie star sunglasses $13, yellow headbands $10 ea, Make A Wish bouquet $35, swiss cheeses $15-31/lb, star button necklace $25, lunch tote $22, red cowboy boots $327, cowboy rain boots $68

For the kids:

floral print dress $8, movie star sunglasses $5, lace mouse ears $35, purple plastic purse $7, star mirror decals $13, plush mouse toy $13, blue tiered skirt $30, bean bag chair $30, crown baby hat $20, fringe cowboy boots $25

Now, on those days when it would feel great to shout,

“I am Lilly!  I am the Queen!

I like everything!”

. . . grab some red boots or movie star sunglasses, and go take over the world!

And… I got my perfect REAL job!!!

UPDATED 2/13/10.  I’ve been so excited about my bourgeoning career that I couldn’t even find time to blog for over a week!

Here is the official news:  I’ve been hired as the “Assistant to the Art Department” at G. P. Putnam’s/Philomel (a part of Penguin Young Readers Group).  I’ll be working with/under the same wonderful folks for whom I interned this summer.  I get my OWN spring intern (ha!).  And I start part-time on Tuesday, with the expectation to go full-time in May.

If you had asked me two weeks ago, this is the best “dream” scenario I could have made up.  I get to work on books that I’ve always loved, with co-workers that I already adore, at one of the best publishing houses in the world.  For a salary.

What does this mean for the blog?  Well, I’m still moving onward and upward, and an entry-level job doesn’t mean that I won’t still be pursuing my dreams.  So – let me just say it now – this is my PERSONAL blog.  Any opinions, thoughts or feelings shared on it do not reflect the views of my employers, work contacts or publishers.  Especially Penguin.  Hows that for a disclaimer?

Anyway, it’s been a lot of hard work and some perfect timing, but I could not be more excited to start, and more grateful to the people in my life who helped me get here.  Please forgive me my periods of gushing!

Cheers!

photo creditphoto credit / photo credit

That’s Like Me! by Jill Lauren, is out!

Book Designed by Annie Beth Ericsson:

That’s Like Me! Stories About Amazing People With Learning Differences.  By Jill Lauren, foreword by Jerry Pinkney.  (Star Bright Books, $7.95)   ISBN: 978-1-59572-208-9  BUY IT ON AMAZON TODAY

That's Like Me!(Jacket)

In addition to the board books, my first full book design project is also on sale now!  That’s Like Me!, by Jill Lauren, is an uplifting series of success stories, told through the eyes of real children and adults, who have overcome learning differences and achieved their goals.  The book is perfect for children and young adults, particularly 8-12 year olds, who are trying to get through obstacles at school.  Jill has really put together a book that is unlike anything else out there!

Personally, this was a really important book for me.  When I worked on That’s Like Me! this summer as a freelancer, I was faced with a task that was larger than anything I had previously accomplished in design.  It was my first time dealing with a non-fiction project for older readers, and I had to incorporate a lot of text, photos and collage elements in a way that would capture the attention of middle-grade kids.  I also learned a ton about working as a team, drawing from the help of Jill Lauren, editor Rena Grossman, and Star Bright Books to communicate everyone’s vision.  I feel confident that, thanks to working on That’s Like Me!, I have a much better understanding of what it takes to execute your point-of-view as a designer.

It feels amazing, after working so hard on a project like this, to finally hold it in my hands!  Plus, isn’t it’s exciting that the legendary children’s book illustrator, Jerry Pinkney (who is dyslexic) and I both have a stake in the same book?

I hope it does fabulously well and that the stories in this book can help many children struggling with LD!

– ABE

Prattsters to Watch Out For!

 

photo by Janelle Fike

photo by Janelle Fike

Last night I had a catered and business card-filled evening working the Pratt Show, an annual event to showcase design grads coming out of Pratt this week!   Despite the customary “who got in?” drama, I was really impressed with the final presentation of Communications Design (COMD) picks.  

 

For children’s book illustration, the grads to watch out for are: 

Chelsea Greene Lewyta, whose linear+watercolor style looks like it jumped off the cover of an old Harper’s – gone wrong.  Love the macabre themes that she explores against the traditional look – reminds me of Trina Shart Hyman’s Little Red Riding Hood.

I thought the most marketable and fun children’s book illustrator was Patricia Raubo.  Her characters were expressive and entertaining… so I look forward to seeing them in the pages of a book soon!  

Also to check out are design superstars Alex Szymczak, Suraj Gandhi and Janelle Fike, whose Define Yourself project I had the honor of helping out on (see above), and am completely obsessed with!  

For more info and people in the Pratt Show, check out my work blog, Pratt Success.  

Cheers,

– ABE