Adult Fiction Cover Award Winners

Animal Farm book cover designs

Raemarie Lee, Kingston University, 1st Place 

Animal Farm design by Raemarie Lee

Explanation of Work

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.

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

‘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

‘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

‘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 Books

‘Less is more – works every time’ Jim Stoddart – Art Director, Penguin Press

Louis Hartley, Northumbria University, 2nd Place

Animal Farm book cover design by Louis Hartley

Explanation of Work

For my design I chose to focus on the primary theme within the book and really boil it down to the primary interaction between characters: inequality. Every action within the book boils down to this word, this theme. I chose the red to grab attention, but also to show that this is a story with a lot of intense themes.

Judges’ Comments

‘Violent with nods to the political iconography that inspired the book. A cover that would work on any oppressive manifesto’ Orlando Weeks

‘A timeless cover that works on so many levels – I felt that we could have talked about the symbolism of the central form for a long time! Striking, thoughtful, clever and super eye-catching’ Indi Davies

‘Very hard to separate from the winner – this was a very close second. It’s a powerful design that works on different levels. Completely original, striking and clever’ John Hamilton – Art Director, Penguin General

‘It conveys the message of the book in graphic form with a nod to authoritarian insignia and the colours of the oppressive regimes. Clean and clever and somehow devastating’ Joanna Prior – Managing Director, Penguin General Books

‘This one stood out from the start. A brave and unique book cover’ Jim Stoddart – Art Director, Penguin Press

Alva Skog, Central Saint Martins UAL, 3rd Place

Animal Farm book cover design by Alva Skog

Explanation of Work

My aim was to make the cover communicate the strong political theme of the book. In order to highlight the book’s relevance for a present-day (and young) audience I looked at how political messages are now being communicated and shared between young people. While social media, newspapers and political pins are important, I came to the conclusion that political messages are often communicated in graffiti and street art. Therefore I decided to use the stencil style of street art and, inspired by the protest artist Paul Peter Piech, I made a stylized version of the cut-out letter.

Judges’ Comments

‘Love the bold typography, use of space and handmade feel of this cover. It feels modern yet classic, and updated for a new audience’ Indi Davies

‘The pink of a pig along with the loud typography would look great on a shelf and stood out amongst the other entries’ Orlando Weeks

 ‘A bold, strong, typographic design that would work well in a bookshop. The colour scheme is interesting and good that it avoids the clichés’ John Hamilton – Art Director, Penguin General

‘I loved the well-wrought typeface which embeds a narrative. The millennial pink is inspired as the background colour’ Joanna Prior – Managing Director, Penguin General Books

Adult Non-Fiction Cover Award Winners

A Brief History of Time book cover designs

Harry Woodgate, University of Hertfordshire, 1st Place

A Brief History of Time book cover design by Harry Woodgate

Explanation of Work

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.

Judges’ Comments

‘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

‘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 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

‘The colourful approach, with its unconventional use of type, looks fresh and contemporary’ Richard Ogle – Art Director, Transworld

‘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

Cameron Edwardson, Coventry University, 2nd Place

A Brief History of Time book cover design

Explanation of Work

The content of the book heavily inspired my design for the cover of A Brief History of Time. I have taken influence from quarks, light interference and black holes to create a graphic that aims to capture the depth and thought-provoking nature of Hawking’s work. The outermost discs are intended to portray light spectrums and interference around a black hole while the innermost disc containing solid black symbolizes the black hole itself.

Judges’ Comments

‘Congratulations on your bold use of black lettering on a black background. The type sits beautifully on the cover – I can imagine it printed as a spot varnish on a matt black finish’ Suzanne Dean – Art Director, Vintage

‘Bold and minimal, this is a good approach distilling the ideas in the book to a strong and arresting single image. The choice of black-on-black print for the type is bold and stylish’ Anthony Burrill

‘This design has come on leaps and bounds over the course of the different stages of the competition. I can really see this sitting on the bookshelves in store. A great design’ Jason Smith – Art Director, Cornerstone

‘This minimalist approach with the pop of colour looks stylish and confident. The black-on-black type is an intriguing typographic interpretation of the theory’ Richard Ogle – Art Director, Transworld

‘There is confidence and intrigue in this cover design. It’s the most visually simple of the designs but with an element of evolving mystery as you move around the book and as it captures the light. I think this represents the subject matter perfectly and I love the black-on-black type, very original’  Grace Winteringham – Co-founder of Patternity

Stephen Young, University of Hertfordshire, 3rd Place

A Brief History of Time book cover design

Explanation of Work

This design is heavily based on the idea of a notepad/book and gives the impression of having been once used by a scientist, and the handwritten title emphasizes the fact that the book was written by Stephen Hawking. The inclusion of the wormhole/black hole is intended to clash with the monotony and normality of the notepad/book grid pattern as it would be astounding to see such a scientific event unfold, especially on a sheet of paper. This is also incorporated on the back cover, which creates a path through the book from the front to the back.

Judges’ Comments

‘Congratulations. This design looked even better wrapped round the book. The hand-lettering was a fresh, bold move, bringing a human touch to the cover. The spiralling central hole felt extremely 3D’ Suzanne Dean – Art Director, Vintage

‘I like the sketchbook approach, it feels human and approachable. The combination of rigid grid and handwriting is visually interesting’ Anthony Burrill

‘Great use of type, the design really draws you in’ Jason Smith – Art Director, Cornerstone

‘I like the scratchy type and weathered grid which gives the whole cover a human touch. This matches the breaking-down of dry science that the book is famous for’ Richard Ogle – Art Director, Transworld

‘This design works for me because of the nostalgic feeling it evokes, reminding me of old textbooks and science lessons, only this time, I’m being drawn into Hawking’s psyche... and his vast knowledge of the subject matter encased within the pages. The spiralling grid void really draws the eye in and has a simple beauty to it – structured, yet dynamic’ Grace Winteringham – Co-founder of Patternity

Children's Cover Award Winners

Nought & Crosses book cover designs

Fruzsina Czech, Ulster University, 1st Place 

Nought & Crosses book cover design

Explanation of Work

Noughts & Crosses (Malorie Blackman) 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 Anna Bilson’s advice on board.

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

Judges’ Comments

‘I loved this design which was incredibly eye-catching and simple but not simplistic’ Malorie Blackman

‘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

‘Our standout winner – instantly iconic, sassy and cool’ Anna Billson – Art Director, Penguin Random House UK Children’s

Lucy Scholes, Falmouth University, 2nd Place 

Nought & Crosses book cover design

Explanation of Work

The idea was inspired by the quote: ‘All our lives criss-crossing but never really touching. A world full of strangers living with all that fear.’ The concept visualizes how throughout the narrative the two main protagonists’ lives become increasingly tangled and intertwined. The strips weave the internal dialogue of the two characters, using black strips to represent Sephy and white strips for Callum. The concept shows the gradual forming of a Nought and a Cross’s viewpoint as it is shaped by their experiences, showing often differing views of the same event.

Judges’ Comments

‘A unique design where the designer brought real imagination and originality to the brief’ Malorie Blackman

‘The detail and complexity of this design are amazing. I would buy this book with this cover straight away. A very close call!’ Tom Sanderson

‘A stunning design – strikingly beautiful and very original’ Anna Billson – Art Director, Penguin Random House UK Children’s

Heléna Doré, Plymouth College of Art, 3rd Place

Nought & Crosses book cover design

Explanation of Work

My inspiration for my design was to create something that holds deep symbolic meaning to the story. Noughts & Crosses focuses on fighting against society, and so I chose to represent this through a defaced school-book. Wrecking a piece of school property, although small, is an act of rebellion against authority.

Further, as Heathcroft High School plays a pivotal role in the narrative, I wanted to make the book appear like it could exist within the story, created by the characters themselves. The rose petal, fingerprints, wine stains, tear drops, wire and secret Liberation Militia symbol not only add to this aesthetic, but also subtly make reference to the plot and emotions covered by the author.

Judges’ Comments

‘The designer had really thought about the themes of the book and depicted those themes on both the front and back covers’ Malorie Blackman

‘Beautiful cover, beautifully executed – lovely hand-lettering’ Tom Sanderson

‘Deceptively simple, cleverly connecting the multiple elements of the story’ Anna Billson – Art Director, Penguin Random House UK Children’s