"Congratulations to all the shortlist on making the judges’ job so difficult – the standard was incredibly high." – Neil Gower, Graphic Artist

1st Prize, Megan Glover - Central Saint Martins, UAL

Megan Glover's cover design of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything'

While reading the book I was struck by the analogies and facts Bryson used to explain complex theories and findings. So, when Bryson mentioned that bananas share more than half of their DNA with humans, I knew that was what I wanted to focus on. My design is not what you would expect a science book to have on its front cover. It’s a banana. But because of its simplicity I was able to turn it into a quirky abstract piece that makes the potential reader ever more curious.


Judges' comments

"Bold, witty and impactful. This design really makes you smile and it is so memorable." – Suzanne Dean, Art Director, Vintage

"This is a fun, graphic and impactful solution. There’s a confidence within the type hierarchy and an ease in which the eye navigates through all the different elements. A worthy winner." – Jason Smith, Art Director, Cornerstone

"Intriguing, bold and fun cover design– it makes you smile and want to pick the book up and find out more about it." – Richard Ogle, Art Director, Transworld

"As one of the boldest covers, this immediately stood out for me. The light-hearted pop aesthetic reflects the easily digestible and often humorous approach of the book." – Yehrin Tong, Illustrator

"A good combination of being audacious but also conveying something essential about the book … and it retains the surprise of a banana and human being sharing 50% of their DNA. It’s good to see the author’s name being treated in this way. It caught my eye immediately when I saw the shortlist, a worthy winner." – Neil Gower, Graphic Artist

2nd Prize, Allana Friedrich - Middlesex University

Allana Friedrich's cover design of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything'

To represent Bryson’s book, I drew a parallel between his writing and the supernova phenomenon, explored in the 3rd chapter through Reverend Evans’ story. The colourful and explosive imagery allowed me to capture the dynamism and sense of wonder brought by the book. By featuring the chapter titles, I aimed to illustrate the “nearly everything” which these stellar explosions generated billions of years ago. Evans’ story also represents the popular nature of Bryson’s work, and reinforces the notion that Science can be accessible, as with a simple telescope in his backyard Evans outdoes several computers and cosmologists in supernovae hunting.

Judges' comments

"This design and concept creates a complete package which is colourful, exciting, and dynamic. The professionalism and effortless confidence of the execution makes this design a worthy runner up. It was one of my favourites, which I picked out, literally from the very first viewing of the entries." – Richard Ogle, Art Director, Transworld

"I am impressed with how colourful, tactile and elegant this design is. The image has such depth. The whole concept was well considered and developed over front, back and spine." – Suzanne Dean, Art Director, Vintage

"Stood out from a lot of the other entries because of the vibrant colours. I love the multiple layered effect which sums the book up nicely." – Jason Smith, Art Director, Cornerstone

"With its elegant execution and depth it gives you a sense of the primordial universe - it’s vibrant, chaotic and beautiful at the same time." – Yehrin Tong, Illustrator

"A sophisticated response to the brief. It has an immediate elegance and a sophistication in terms of the treatment of colour and the depth to it. It felt the designer had created something beautiful in its own right as it sits in two dimensions on a book cover but it also hinted at something infinite beyond, which was very relevant to the book." – Neil Gower, Graphic Artist

3rd Prize, Kael Crozier - Leeds Arts University

Kael Crozier's cover design of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything'

Bryson uses metaphors to present complex concepts in an exciting yet accessible way. In my design I present this through the use of a famous wormhole analogy involving a pencil piercing through paper. 

The receipt in this context acts as a vehicle for type while still fitting the everyday aesthetic. The curving of the receipt brings a visual tension while its scroll-like characteristics add a grandiose quality that helps establish the book's immense scale. 

The block yellow background brings a striking contrast while also enforcing a sense of warmth and accessibility.

Judges' comments

 "I was immediately drawn to this design by the very graphic approach and arresting use of colour. I love the way the designer has considered the package as a whole and the fact that there are many different elements to the cover." – Jason Smith, Art Director, Cornerstone

"This design instantly stood out amongst the hundreds of entries. The stripped down boldness is eye catching. The easy simplicity of its design is remarkable given the amount of text that has been included. This is a very modern interpretation of the content which creates an appeal beyond the science reader." – Richard Ogle, Art Director, Transworld

"Combines audacity and a real design flair – a willingness to do something unusual. It’s seeing something so abstract on the cover that makes this design so striking. One of the most complete in terms of the way the front cover was integrated with the back cover and across the spine.  A tremendous design." – Neil Gower, Graphic Artist

"The use of an everyday item makes science seem accessible like Bryson’s writing. The bold use of colour and the receipt motif connecting the front and back makes for a dynamic design." – Yehrin Tong, Illustrator

"A yellow cover is always so bold. It really stands out. It feels cool, confident and well considered." – Suzanne Dean, Art Director, Vintage

Max Basey - Leeds Arts University

Max Basey's cover design of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything'

The concept aims to differ from traditional scientific non-fiction covers reflecting Bryson's writing. It is based on a quote on how the universe was created from the first chapter and that “it was all done in about the time it takes to make a sandwich”. The reader is given an understanding of the cover early on which helps to highlight the light-hearted tone in which Bryson communicates the scientific theories of the book. The hope is that the reader will get to page twenty-eight, read the quote and look again at the cover now understanding the concept.

Aleksandra Galewicz - Camberwell College of Arts

Aleksandra Galewicz's cover design of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything'

I have been inspired by Bill Bryson’s approach towards science; he makes complicated things easy to understand and he does that in an extremely fascinating way. In my design I wanted to show that the journey through ‘everything’ (although at first it may seem overwhelming), can actually be quite effortless and utterly enjoyable. I decided to use simple shapes of strange familiarity, bringing to mind images of cosmic objects and forms. I wanted my design to be both straightforward and eye-catching - showing that there is an immense depth in simplicity.

Nelson Goldsworth - Montana State University

Nelson Goldsworth's cover design of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything'

The idea of everything is quite big; it really covers a lot of things. I also feel that everything is hard to put into a single illustration or picture, so I decided to use a purely typographic treatment. I chose typefaces and colors I felt evoked a sense of timelessness and made the word “EVERYTHING” as large as I could. It’s important that the cover tells the reader exactly what the book was about.

Phoebe Hoare - University of Portsmouth

Phoebe Hoare's cover design of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything'

When thinking about how I should approach designing the cover for A Short History of Nearly Everything, I felt that illustrating a single image wouldn’t do the book enough justice. I loved all of the phrases that Bryson uses throughout and thought that recreating those words with a hand-lettered typographic approach could be really interesting. I wanted the cover to be busy and full of lots of engaging text, sort of like a sneak-peek representation of how much captivating information has been squeezed into one book.

Emily Roach - University of South Wales

Emily Roach's cover design of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything'

As A Short History of Nearly Everything attempts to cover all the significant events and discoveries from the conception of the known universe to the present day, I chose to condense and visually represent this as a plastic model kit, ready to be assembled or in this case - unpacked. The information within the book itself then acts as a 'guide' to understanding the world around us, embodied by the plastic figures within the sprue.

Thomas Shepherd – Robert Gordon University

Thomas Shepherd's cover design of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything'

My aim with my book cover was to try and show the earth in relation to the expanse of space, and how this great history and these amazing discoveries have all happened on our tiny rock floating in the void of nothing. The design on the front is almost meant to say that out of all this space and all these stars, this has all happened here and nowhere else. We’re one in a million.

Ashley Warwick – Birmingham City University

Ashley Warwick's cover design of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything'

The idea behind my design was to emulate the quirky yet accessible work of Bill Bryson and create something that could match this ethic whilst also drawing reader attention for its own merit. Whilst working on the cover my tutor warned me that it would be hard to narrow down the book into one image as it bridges such a broad spectrum of science and our universe, so I decided not to narrow it down to one aspect and instead covered all aspects of the book in a way I think Bill Bryson would be proud of.

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