It occurred to me the other day that it’s been a while since I’ve stuck any of my own work on here, and being freshly graduated and resting before I try and sort out a career I haven’t really flexed my design muscles recently. So here’s a project rundown of the last thing I did at uni, my final major project based on the D&AD brief from Orion Books, which asked for a series of matching book covers for legendary author H.G. Wells‘ more lesser known novels (aka the non-sci-fi ones). The original brief said they had to be hardback jackets, but the set is aimed at a younger audience and those likely to have a basic knowledge of the author but not these particular titles. Hardback’s just seemed like a contradiction. They’re more expensive and less practical, two qualities I thought were pretty important when targeting ‘young creatives’.

Here are a few of my scamp pages for each book, just to show you where the imagery and ideas came from:

Stuff was pretty varied at the early stages, and I didn’t know how I would realise anything, though it would have to be either illustration or photography. Designing custom DVD covers in high school really helped me with the whole ‘matching set’ thing, but then again, it’s hardly rocket science to establish a visual style and apply it to three books. Before I decided upon the 60’s cut-out style, I made a few random mock-ups digitally, with varying degrees of success:

They’re not too bad really, just not the sort of thing I wanted. The last ‘pink bottles’ one I still think is pretty cool, but I couldn’t make the same thing work for the other two books. All this digital experimenting lead to the old school, cut-out style I would fall in love with. It got me looking at old Penguin books and kick-started this retro crush I’ve had over the last few months and will probably stay with me for the rest of my life. Here is a selection of some of the earlier covers I made for ‘Tono-Bungay‘:

I really dug the pink and black (though I would end up changing it to a green / blue thanks to printing issues with the red on the next title), and I thought that applying a 60’s style to books published in the late 1800’s gave them an awesome modern-retro feel. My original post while these were still in development can be found here, and a bunch of (eventually) rejected designs for ‘Love and Mr. Lewisham‘ is also on here. I moved onto the second book, and it took me ages to get to something that a) I liked as much as the pink bottles and b) looked like part of the same set as the others (and at that point I still hadn’t decided on which one I liked the most). So I ended up making loads of similar covers using vector stylized people and hearts, which I just couldn’t seem to make work:

The two above were the best of the bunch. They’re simple, and fit with the previous designs. ‘Love and Mr. Lewisham‘ is the only book of the three which I actually read during the project, and although I came up with the heart / arrows idea before hand, it’s a really good reflection of the story and it’s key protagonist (three guesses who that is). The Ouija board background disappeared fairly quickly, as did the question mark, it doesn’t add anything and the imagery speaks alot better without it.

Annoyingly I have lost the front mock-ups of ‘The History of Mr. Polly‘, which basically went from a hand holding a match (which I actually re-used here) to a gentlemen’s top hat on fire. Both of which are a reference to the most pivotal moment in the book, where Mr. Polly decides to burn down his clothes shop and start a new life in the country.

Well this post has gone on far longer than I originally intended anyways, so I’ll leave it here, simply by saying that I’m awfully proud of the final outcomes, with each one really reflecting the essence, spirit and themes of each book, and in the Saul Bass style I have been a fan of for years, but had never imitated. If you actually took the time to read all this, thanks alot.

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