Penguin Brief

The Penguin book cover brief is a project with a duration period of two weeks, and an alternative to the zoo project.
The motivation behind opting to embark on this project comes the dark theme that surrounds it in addition to the undertone of ugliness that is inherent within human nature.

Penguin gave the option of picking from three books to choose from, In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences by Truman Capote (Adult Non-Fiction Cover), The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend (Children’s Cover) and the last option of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Adult Fiction Cover). I ultimately decided to go for To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Below is the brief given to all students who want to engage in the Adult Fiction Cover…


The Brief

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’
A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man’s struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

‘Someone rare has written this very fine novel, a writer with the liveliest sense of life and the warmest, most authentic humour. A touching book; and so funny, so likeable.’ Truman Capote
‘No one ever forgets this book’ Independent
Previous Winners
‘Sitting alongside and being mentored by other talented designers was an invaluable experience, learning from them as well as having the chance to work on live briefs and contribute to the team . . . It’s really exciting to see the book cover I designed during my work placement in print and in bookshops!’
Ellen Rockell – winner of the Penguin Adult Cover Award 2014


The Brief

To Kill A Mockingbird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece of modern literature and was voted the most loved book of the last sixty years by The Times readers in October 2009. It has been translated into more than forty languages and has sold over thirty million copies worldwide. So no pressure.

We would like you to design a new and classic cover for this book. The trick here will be to come at it from a fresh perspective and to avoid repeating the obvious iconography from the many previous editions in print. If you can get your hands on a copy of the book in order to get a sense of the beautiful writing, this will only help to inspire your design. The cover should feel timeless and confident, and appeal to a whole new generation of readers.

Your cover design needs to include all the cover copy supplied and be designed to the specified design template – B format, 198mm high x 129mm wide, spine width 20 mm, incorporating the ARROW branding and all additional elements such as the barcode.

What the judges are looking for:
We are looking for a striking cover design that is well executed, has an imaginative concept and clearly places the book for its market. While all elements of the jacket need to work together as a cohesive whole, remember that the front cover must be effective on its own and be eye-catching within a crowded bookshop setting. It also needs to be able to work on screen for digital retailers such as Amazon.

The winning design will need to:
have an imaginative concept and original interpretation of the brief be competently executed with strong use of typography appeal to a contemporary readership show a good understanding of the marketplace
have a point of difference from the many other book covers it is competing against.


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