Tag Archives: penguin classics

Top 5 Things To See/Know/Do This Week

Since the week has been so crazy for me preparing the Spring 2012 picture books at work, here are a few announcements/discoveries to keep y’all busy:

1. Seems that Coralie Bickford-Smith, senior cover designer over at the UK’s Penguin Books, has been on everyone’s brains lately . . . I received two links to her in the past few days!  I have always been a huge fan of her Clothbound Classics series, but I hadn’t seen her full site.

And, my goodness, take a look at her newest work!  I’m getting giddy looking at this Penguin Great Food series (link courtesy of Creative Review, via Ryan, extremely cool fellow designer/cubicle neighbor).  Each plate is based on vintage ceramic patterns, and I seriously can’t get over how gorgeous they are.

2.  Speaking of how the UK dominates beautiful patterned covers, let’s move along to White’s Books, a small London publisher directed by David Pearson (a former Penguin Books designer himself).  In a different way, these patterns draw the reader into other imagery and bring visually potent symbolism to distinguished classics. Thanks to Kevin Stanton, amazing paper-cut illustrator from the Illustration Week extravaganza, for referring me to Jessica Vendsen’s blog!

3. On a local level, I have to give a shout-out to a new show opening up in town: Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World).  I’ve mentioned before my infatuation with Maira’s work, and since she’s a Nancy Paulsen Books author/illustrator, I get to drool over her new children’s books on a regular basis.  Can’t wait to check out this exhibit of many of her best-known works, as I know it’ll be as original and out-of-the-box as ever.

Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) is on display at The Jewish Museum from March 11 to July 31, 2011.  For more info, check out this blog post, with plenty of links to get your Maira fix.

4.  Hey, did I mention I’ve been busy doing some freelance design work for Elizabeth Knight Jewelry?  If you’re in the mood to accessorize, head on over to her website, where you can find collections of nature-inspired, mostly silver work. When we stopped by a group sample sale last week, it was completely mobbed . . . so get this stuff while it’s hot, fashionistas!

As for me, I’m going straight for the Frog Pearl Necklace and Vertebrae Earrings.

5. Times are tough, folks. Amid the economy cutbacks, we gotta defend what’s worth spending money on. Support Planned Parenthood and writing programs like Reading Is Fundamental by clicking on the links, signing your name, and/or writing to your representative.  You’ll be standing up for millions of underprivileged children who gain access to literacy though RIF, and millions of adults who need access to life-saving care (like cancer screenings, HIV testing, and birth control).  Let’s keep our country healthy and wise.  Thanks!

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!

Oh, And One More Thing…

6. This Wallpaper

Anthropologie has the hottest book wallpaper… so in case you can’t get enough real books to stack, you can plaster your walls with Penguin paperbacks!!

Happy Friday, everyone…  I’m going to be artsy tonight with some gallery openings, then forgo the cool people at Fashion Week to get my nerd on at the Brooklyn Book Festival instead.  I love Fall!

Video Half-Day Friday: Happy 75th Penguin! + Austen-Mania

Happy Birthday, Penguin! Today, the revolutionary publisher of paperbacks new and old (also known to me as “work”), turns 75.  I couldn’t be prouder to be at a company with such a historically strong emphasis on design.  And what better way to celebrate than with this adorably informative documentary?

Video – Penguin Books 75th Anniversary – Penguin Group (USA)

(Can’t embed this for the life of me… so you’ll just have to clicky click!)

Now, on to some video fun, posted by Laura from Combreviations over at 100 Scope Notes:

… SO funny!!  I’m not a huge Austen fan, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Emma, my soul-sister in misguided matchmaking.  I’m always amazed at the many ways that Austen can be adapted, on- and off-screen, so I have probably seen more spin-off movies than read original books.

Penguin, as a publisher of classics, has done an amazing job of reworking old material for a modern audience, so it makes sense that Austen is perfect for them.  They’ve even expanded into “Austen-Mania” with this page on their website, so that fans can delve into the world of romance, long after they’ve read the books.

To show just how innovative Penguin has been with this one author, here are a few examples any Austen fan should check out:

1. I’ve been drooling over this Hardback Classics cover of Emma for months!  It epitomizes that delicious feeling of holding a really beautiful book in your hands. Make sure to take a look at the books by other authors as well.

2.  Penguin UK created a fun and simple project called My Penguin.  For just a few dollars, aspiring designers can pick up their blank copy of Emma (or another classic), and create their own book cover.  While submissions are closed, it’s really interesting to see the gallery of work that came out of it from bands, artists, and anyone else who wanted to contribute.

3.  Still not satisfied creating your own Georgian-Regency world?  The book, Lost In Austen (wasn’t this also a movie?), is a choose-your-own-adventure style tale through all six books.

3.  Ah, Penguin UK, why are you so pretty?  The evolution of Pride and Prejudice, here, here and here.  I even found an article from 2006 where the Brits turned Austen into chick lit, with Colin Firth and all.  Now that’s a little ridiculous…

4.  Want to read all the novels at once, just like that hot dude in The Jane Austen Book Club? Of course, Penguin Classics has a complete set.

Now, it’s a beautiful day, time to get to the park and celebrate Penguin by reading my book!

Be A Literary Hipster Helpster

Growing up, service to others was a big part of my values – and my life.  Even in college, it was important to me to stay a part of organizations that support philanthropy and are active in the community.  It’s easy to participate and feel like a good person when you have a built-in support system like church or school, but once you’re thrown out into the great, self-involved NYC world . . . how to you stay involved?

This article from the NY Press shows how, in the midst of gentrification and hipster indifference, a new generation of “helpsters” is emerging.  It’s an interesting dichotomy – the young, mostly white ex-suburban-children move into the ‘hoods of Brooklyn, only to fight to preserve the diversity that brought them there.  It strikes a bit of an uncomfortable spot with me (I know I’m the stereotype of a 20-something S.W.F. in Brooklyn, escaping my New England roots for a creative, urban vibe and a stroller/brownstone package in Park Slope!  Yikes.).  But regardless of how you feel on the issue, the article and its subjects bring up some great causes, like New York Cares.

Bibliophiles, want to support a cause, but mostly from the comfort of your own home?  Consider these options . . .

1.  Buy Books

Literary prowess, stunning typography, edgy Penguin design . . . oh, and supporting the (RED) Aids Awareness Foundation? I can’t remember the last time I got this hot and bothered over a series of book covers.

2.  Read Books

One of my favorite personal projects is working with my pen pal over at In2Books.com!  In2Books is an amazing program that hooks up 3rd – 5th graders in classrooms with adult pen pals who read books with them and get them discussing.  Think of it as an online book club of two.  Best of all, you get to read and write letters on your own time!

3.  Sort Books

If you’re in the NYC area, consider volunteering for Project Cicero, an annual non-profit book drive create to help under-budgeted NYC public schools fill their classrooms with reading.  My sorority went last year, and we were awed by the sheer volume of donated material (1.5 million books so far), all needing to be sorted by volunteers, and then given to 8,500 classrooms and libraries.  The event is next March, so put it on your calendar for 2011!

4.  Share Books

Do you remember the magic of your first book?  I bet everyone has a few extra lying around that no one is reading . . . so donate them to First Books and give the gift of literacy to children without access to the books we love most.