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  • Katy Laundon

Penguin Student Design Award 2019

Updated: Mar 26, 2019


Every year Penguin hold a live brief to design a cover for a book. It is a competition that is open to students at any level and the prize is the opportunity to do four weeks of work experience at Penguin Random House Design Studios in London, and £1000, and cash prizes for second and their places. There are three categories to choose from, fiction, non-fiction and children's book, you can enter one design for each category if you wanted to.

This year the categories are Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami for the adult fiction cover, The Establishment, by Owen Jones for the adult non-fiction cover and Wonder, by R. J. Palacio for the children's cover.



I have decided to have a go and design a cover for the children's award this year. The first thing I needed to do was read the book Wonder. It is amazing! The book is about a young boy called August and his family. The story begins were his parents decide that he has been home schooled long enough and should experience mainstream school. The story begins from the view point Auggie, who has a severe facial deformity, it covers the things he experiences and learns at this time of his life, as well as the view of his friends and family. It is classed as a children's fiction book but I would recommend to people of all ages.


I went to local book shops to photograph the book on the shelf, so I could see where it sits within the genre and to see the books that it is being displayed with. I have watched an interview on YouTube called 'Choose Kind Campaign' were the author is being interviewed by Chip Kidd, they talk about her inspiration for the book, how people deal with life from different perspectives and issues surrounding bullying. The choose kindness campaign was something that happened around the world as a result of this book, asking people to simply 'choose kindness' and stop social mean-ness.


My first idea was to illustrate key things from the book that were Auggies favourite things, like

his dog, Star Wars, music and gaming. I wanted to create the type for the title on the cover by hand, I feel that it would be fitting and goes along with the theme of the book and the idea that its OK to not be perfect.



From there I decided that I liked the typeface I had created more than the illustrations, so I changed it to be mostly typographical, and by adding block colour to the 'O', 'N' and the 'E' the word ONE stands out, which I think is fitting as the story is about ONE boy and his journey, but it also highlights that, even though August has his own problems, everyONE around him does too, it highlights that no-ONE is perfect and that everyone is special in their own way.


The image above centre was a hand made mock up, using acrylic paint and gold pen on paper, of my new idea. The colour I chose for the background, a dark blue, was because of the space connection which is a subject that is brought up through out the book, and secondly because it complements the gold that I wanted to use for the text and images, gold, I think screams 'special' and 'important' and this book is both of these things from the story it tells to the characters within. To the right of that are digital versions of the cover including the spine and back cover, with all of the information that had to included in the final artwork, such as the reviews, bar code and the Penguin logo.

I did try to screen print the cover but it didn't have the finish I was hoping for.



These are my final artworks that I sent in to Penguin. I decided to stay with a digitally made cover, I made the blue much deeper and kept the gold. I am quite happy with the result, though if this was actually put onto the book I think it would look great if the blue had a fabric feel to it and the images and text were a gloss gold with the main title on the front debossed.



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