Penguin Cover Stories: from the Typographic to the Visual
Early Penguin book covers were simple typographic and coloured statements about the publisher’s identity, rather than the content of an individual book, and when images first appeared it was initially in a controlled way. Over the first 30 years of its history, Penguin would experiment with using images in different ways for different markets, without establishing any consistent policy. It was only in the late 1950s that they finally accepted that the use of images was essential for changing market conditions, and that the design of covers was a specialist opportunity. This talk will chart these changes and discuss the emergence of graphic design from the separate activities of commercial art, publicity design, and the print trades.
This is part of the 2012 University of Bristol Autumn Art Lecture series – run in association with Bristol Festival of Ideas – which look at the art of the book, from the physical beauty that books can convey in the illuminated manuscript, the natural history publication and the work of William Morris, through the commercial beauty of Penguin covers, to graphic novels and how artists work with books today. For details of all events click here.
Phil Baines is a member of the research staff at University of the Arts London: Central St Martin’s. His design practice includes high profile, one-off commissions; general graphic design for arts organisations; and type design. The underlying themes include an interest in history and experimentation, and in the relationship between form and content. He is the author of Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935-2005, Puffin by Design: 2010: 70 Years of Imagination 1940-2010 and Type and Typography (with Andrew Haslam), among others.
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