Winners of the 2018 Student Design Award revealed

winners of its 2018 Student Design Award

Penguin Random House UK last night revealed the winners of its 2018 Student Design Award at a prize-giving ceremony at its office on the Strand in central London. 

All three winners, one from each of the award categories, will receive a work placement within the Penguin Random House UK design studios, as well as a £1,000 cash prize. The 2018 winners are:

  • Adult Fiction Cover Award – Raemarie Lee, Kingston University (Animal Farm by George Orwell)
  • Adult Non-Fiction Cover Award – Harry Woodgate, University of Hertfordshire (A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking)
  • Children’s Cover Award – Fruzsina Czech, Ulster University (Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman)


From L-R: Raemarie Lee (Fiction category), Fruznina Czech (Children's category), Harry Woodgate (Non-fiction category)

The winners of the 2nd prize in each category will receive a £500 cash prize and the winners of the 3rd prize in each category will receive a £350 cash prize; all second and third place winners are named below.

The winners were selected from a shortlist of 30 designs (10 in each category) by three judging panels; consisting of Art Directors from across Penguin Random House UK as well as guest judges from the design and publishing industry, including Malorie Blackman, Anthony Burrill, Grace Winteringham, Orlando Weeks, Indi Davies and Tom Sanderson.

According to the judges, the winning covers were chosen from a competitive field of 2,100 submissions because they each demonstrated an original interpretation of the brief, showed a good understanding of the marketplace and appealed to a contemporary readership. The judges were also impressed by the imaginative approaches and competent execution taken by each of the winning students.

The award, now in its twelfth year, aims to find the next generation of book cover designers by giving students the opportunity to experience real cover design briefs first-hand.

Commenting on this year’s award, Anna Billson, Art Director of Penguin Random House Children’s and one of the judges in the Children’s Cover category, said: “The Student Design Award is a great opportunity for students to reimagine and reinvent the covers of some of our most iconic and well-loved books.

“Every year we receive some amazing designs, and whittling it down to just three winners is always very tough. This year was no exception – we were incredibly impressed by the quality, creativity and originality of each of the shortlisted designs.

“For me, design is all about creating an instant connection with a reader. The combination of illustration, typography and use of colour on a cover all need to come together seamlessly: to make a reader feel instantly compelled to pick it up. All three winning designs were exceptional in capturing these elements and creating that vital connection. Congratulations to the winners and well done to all the other shortlisted students.”


2018 Student Design Award winning entries

Adult Fiction Cover Award

Winner: Raemarie Lee, Kingston University

“This minimalist, flat design references the book without overtly showing the image of a pig or communist elements. I employed basic shapes to create a symbol which, in the context of Animal Farm, is clearly recognizable as a reference to the story’s central characters. The ‘snout’ is set against a sombre, stone-like texture that calls to mind the brutalist style often associated with communist architecture.”

Animal Farm Cover

Judges’ comments:

  • “Striking and yet with a soft, playful quality that mirrors the fairy-tale aspects of the book. A cover that aptly lulls you into a false sense of security.” Orlando Weeks, author and illustrator
  • “This is a brilliantly original take; bold, modern and intriguing. It’s as charming as it is foreboding. An excellent, accomplished design – I’d love this on my bookshelf.” Indi Davies, deputy editor of Lecture in Progress
  •  “It’s a bold, confident design that pares back the book into a single image that is both graphic and representatively strong.” Joanna Prior – Managing Director, Penguin General
  • "The winner was one of my favourites from the outset. It is completely original, iconic with some added humour. Really like the simplicity of the design and type.” John Hamilton – Art Director, Penguin General
  • Less is more – works every time.” Jim Stoddart – Art Director, Penguin Press

Louis Hartley from Northumbria University was awarded second place, whilst Alva Skog from Central Saint Martins was named in third place.

The judges also highly commended the designs by Mulenga Musonda from the University of Brighton and Simon Breese from Billy Blue College of Design, Australia.

From L-R: Mulenga Musonda (highly commended), Simon Breese (highly commended), Raemarie Lee (first place), Louis Hartley (second place), Alva Skog (third place)
From L-R: Mulenga Musonda (highly commended), Simon Breese (highly commended), Raemarie Lee (first place), Louis Hartley (second place), Alva Skog (third place)

Adult Non-Fiction Cover Award:

Winner: Harry Woodgate, University of Hertfordshire

“I wanted to create something that would stand out from existing designs, and which reflected how groundbreaking Hawking’s work was. I produced several concepts but this to me captured the essence of the book – distilling an incredibly complex and multilayered subject into something elegant and simple, whilst still being challenging and unconventional.

“I took inspiration from different theories, including colour shift, multiple dimensions and the expanding universe, and tried to communicate these purely through colour and type – there was something almost poetic to me about using those fundamental building blocks of design to illustrate a subject which explores, essentially, the building blocks of the universe.”

A brief history of time, book cover

Judges’ comments:

  • Interesting approach of typography and illustration. I like the unconventional layout, it feels fresh, contemporary and communicates the ideas of the book.” Anthony Burrill
  • I love the way Harry has taken a simple approach through repetition and layering to illustrate a very complex and multilayered subject. I feel it works really well – the layered coloured discs, with subtle opacity and spacious type evoke a sense of infinite space and possibility that definitely draws the eye in. I find the spectrum of colour on black feels joyful and brings a “lightness” to this sometimes weighty subject matter.” Grace Winteringham – Co-founder of Patternity
  • Congratulations on your design. I think the colours make the cover eye-catching and approachable. The viewer’s eye is drawn to the playful typography. It is a brave cover.” Suzanne Dean – Art Director, Vintage
  • The colourful approach, with its unconventional use of type, looks fresh and contemporary.” Richard Ogle – Art Director, Transworld
  • I loved this design from the first time I saw it. Very abstract with a fantastic colour palette. A worthy winner.” Jason Smith – Art Director, Cornerstone

Cameron Edwardson from Coventry University was awarded second place, whilst Stephen Young from the University of Hertfordshire was named in third place.

The judges also highly commended the designs by Helen Kellock from the Glasgow School of Art and Fiona Cheung from Coventry University.

From L-R: Helen Kellock (highly commended), Cameron Edwardson (second place), Harry Woodgate (first place), Stephen Young (third place), Fiona Cheung (highly commended)
From L-R: Helen Kellock (highly commended), Cameron Edwardson (second place), Harry Woodgate (first place), Stephen Young (third place), Fiona Cheung (highly commended)

Children’s Cover Award:

Winner: Fruzsina Czech, Ulster University

“Noughts & Crosses provides an experience through the two main characters, Sephy and Callum. The novel tells us about their relationship and how it grows, it is so personal, I felt it was important to include them as key elements in my design.

“Monochrome colour was chosen to show the contrasted personalities, alongside adding sophistication to the look. Introducing red as an accent was an afterthought, taking Penguin Random House Children’s Art Director Anna Bilson’s advice on board.

“The simple aesthetic, inspired by the cover of Varoom magazine (6/2/18), dictated to not break the clean look, so I hand-lettered the title and blurb within the characters.”

Moonlight and Crosses, book cover

Judges’ comments:

  • "I loved this design which was incredibly eye-catching and simple but not simplistic.” Malorie Blackman, author of Noughts & Crosses
  • “Fruzsina’s cover really stood out for me. I loved the mixture of type and image and the overall simplicity. I loved it!” Tom Sanderson, freelance cover designer
  • “Our standout winner – instantly iconic, sassy and cool.” Anna Billson – Art Director, Penguin Random House UK Children’s

Lucy Scholes from Falmouth University was awarded second place, whilst Heléna Doré from Plymouth College of Art was named in third place.

From L-R: Heléna Doré (third place), Fruznina Czech (first place), Lucy Scholes (second place)
From L-R: Heléna Doré (third place), Fruznina Czech (first place), Lucy Scholes (second place)

About the Student Design Award

The Penguin Random House Student Design Award has run for 12 years, and is a springboard for aspiring student designers. Judging for this year’s award took place from May to June, after Art Directors from Penguin Random House provided each of the 30 shortlisted designers with detailed feedback on their initial cover designs. The students then resubmitted their revised designs for the final judging.

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more