2017 Shortlist


We are delighted to announce the shortlisted candidates for the Penguin Random House Student Design Award 2017. Art Directors from Penguin Random House will now provide each of the shortlisted designers with detailed feedback on their covers, giving the students the opportunity to refine and resubmit their designs before the final judging takes place in June.

See below for all the shortlisted entrants for this year's competition.

Adult Fiction Cover Award

   

Cristina Cid

Swansea College of Art, University of Wales, Trinity Saint David

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

I’ve got my inspiration mostly from the book and the things i enjoy drawing and painting the most, like hair, skin, faces... I also like to use warm and cold colors on the same drawing.

What does this book mean to you?

I think that the fact that I’ve read this book and designed the cover while I was studying abroad (Erasmus) has influenced a lot on what the book means to me, because it has been a beautiful and special experience, so i will always relate the book to my time here in Wales.

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Yusuf Athman

University Centre, Stockport College

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

I’d have to say it was the content of the book. My design focuses on the issue of racism at the time as I feel this is one of the primary issues. I decided to target the ignorance and arrogance of the community.

What does this book mean to you?

I think the main concept about this book that personally stands out and irritates me is the ignorance portrayed by the community, knowing that there can be no positive resolution regardless of the arguments made. It makes me appreciate how things are now. Although they’re not perfect, circumstances have improved an incredible amount.

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Maria Isabelle Becker

Central Saint Martins, UAL

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

I was inspired by the content of the book. Jem’s “sewn-up jeans” is a pinnacle moment in which Jem reassesses if Boo Radley is as evil as rumour has it. This aptly touches upon Scout’s message "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view [...] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

What does this book mean to you?

You can be a good person without having to live up to the sometimes restrictive expectations of society - never judge a book by its cover :)

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Klara Block

Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

While the theme of my design was inspired by the contents of the book, the style and the design process was mainly inspired by Jessica Hische’s work for the Penguin Drop Cap series. Her diverse approaches to illustrate the letterforms have inspired me to combine illustration and type.

What does this book mean to you?

I am deeply fascinated by Harper Lee’s writing style, how she brings words to life and touches the reader. I can identify with the melancholic and hurtful realisation of a curious and innocent child that discovers the world’s darkness and cruelness, confronting a deep belief in the immanent goodness of people and the world.

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Madalyn Farley

Kingston University

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

The left hand is significant in To Kill a Mockingbird as a key symbol of innocence whereas the open palm suggests vulnerability, two key themes of the story that inspired me. I wanted to draw on the visuals I got from reading the book over taking ideas from previous cover designs as I felt the mockingbird imagery has been used a lot. However I included the small bird foot detailing in the creases of the hand to subtly reference the title. The writing in the creases of the hand refer to fate and my way of linking the title to story. The bold contrast in colours refer to division between race in 1930’s America, another core theme to the book that inspired me to create this cover. 

What does this book mean to you?

For me, this book means injustice. It shows a part of history we can’t begin to imagine. A way that seems so far from now however somewhat similar to issues this year. It’s about standing up for what is right and fair, a key value of life we should all remember. 

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Joss Humberstone

Glasgow School of Art

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

I was inspired by Harper Lee’s references to nature and the environment, she paints a very vivid picture of Alabama. Pecan trees, johnson grass, rabbit tobacco and cannas are just a few of the plants and trees mentioned throughout the novel.

I knew that I wanted to use archival images in some way. I spent hours going through the Internet Archive of Book Images, a resource of some five million images, all of which are copyright free.

I kept thinking about the filmmaker Terrence Malick and his film The Tree of Life. Like To Kill a Mockingbird this also told a very vivid story of growing up in small town America. More specifically the way it was filmed literally from a child’s perspective, walks through long grass, constantly looking up at adults faces framed by blue sky and tree tops. I wanted to illustrate a child’s inherent inquisitiveness of nature.

Whilst designing I studied the work of Chip Kidd, particularly his jackets for Cormac McCarthy. They’re very simple covers but striking in their use of photography. 

What does this book mean to you?

Firstly I know it as classic work of fiction, one of the great American novels. I had never read it prior to the competition - it’s a book you expect to have studied at school, but instead I was given Steinbeck’s Mice of Men. Maybe the class above me read To Kill a Mockingbird.

Having read the novel now I understand it to be very much a story of adolescence and growing up, long summers, as I mentioned before - I found it very vivid. The book addresses serious issues, giving a child’s perspective on the society they’re being brought into. 

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Max Low

Hereford College of Arts

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

I wanted to portray the general feeling of the book rather than any particular event, scene or passage; I'm dyslexic and often struggle to read, so I tend to understand books through the imagery and overall feeling when reading them.

What does this book mean to you?

I think it is important as an educational tool, to promote empathy, understanding and awarenesss, but also to show that change ultimately comes from within the community. I first read it while I was at school and back then I just found it hugely visual and entertaining.

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Linde Raats

University of the West of Scotland

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

I was more inspired by other designs than I was by the content of the book. Obviously a lot of designs use the iconography of a bird, and I wanted to find a way to use that bird in a completely new and original design. After trying out some ideas I came to the concept of combining a gun with a bird’s cage. This represents that the mockingbird, the man who is falsely accused of the crime, is literally stuck between life and death until his innocence is proven.

What does this book mean to you?

To be honest I do not have a special relationship with this book, but I do appreciate the way the story is written from a child’s point of view.

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Harry Woodgate

Arts University Bournemouth

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

I wanted to do something a bit different to existing designs, many of which I found were quite heavily focused on the tree in which Scout and Jem find the gifts. I was playing with ways to incporoate the motif of the mockingbird, and came up with a silhouette which also simultaneously reads as the profile of a man. There was something about it - the contrast of black and white, the ambiguity of who the figure might represent - which I felt captured the key themes of the novel: racial prejudice, childish innocence, the division between right and wrong.

What does this book mean to you?

I think there is something uniquely moving about To Kill A Mockingbird - how we are introduced to such sensitive issues through the innocence of child's perspective. As the novel takes place over several years, it's really interesting to move with the characters of Scout and Jem as they grow up and develop, in terms of their understanding of morality, of prejudice, and also in terms of how they experience pressure from society. Harper Lee manages to capture the essence of childhood at the same time as exploring some really potent subjects such as racism and injustice, and I really admire that.

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Lemeng Xue

Nottingham Trent University

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

My inspiration was the perspective of a child in the book. It lead me to think about using the concept of a classroom and the quote in the book "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view" inspired me to make the cross-page design with the blackboard.

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Adult Non-Fiction Cover Award

   

Sophie Smart

Sheffield Hallam University

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

My creative process always begins with numerous roughs that respond to the narrative being illustrated. Whilst initially exploring several themes from the book, I kept returning to the theme of death which is such a integral part of the novel, the challenge for me as an illustrator was how this theme could be represented in a visual way which was not crude or obvious. It was during my development that the idea of using Lillie’s as a visual metaphor came to mind, as historically they are a flower commonly presented at funerals and therefore symbolic of theme I was visually playing with. 

Further to this, I decided to play with the Penguin Classic book design by manipulating the orange colouring and white/cream space in the centre of the cover to create an illustrated, modern take on the classic layout. I did this in order to “appeal to a modern readership” – as stated as a specification within the brief.

What does this book mean to you?

This book is a shocking reminder that humanity is not always found within every person, and that greed sometimes engulfs individuals. Also, this book is a reminder to not take the pleasantries in life for granted, as regardless of how tame your life may be it is never clear what is around the corner for you!

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Silje Bergum

University of Hertfordshire

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

What inspired the design of this book was the content in the book - the amount of traveling that happens within In Cold Blood is incredible. I also found great amuse in that the post office in Holcomb (where most of the story takes place) was basically the gossip centre of the town.

I was also inspired by a book design that I really like - “Air Mail. Brev 1964-1990” designed by Aslak Gurholt Ronsen. This was what led me on the path with using stamps in my design.  

What does this book mean to you?

It’s an incredible book! I really enjoy reading crime books - fiction and non-fiction alike, and this was one of the best one I’ve ever read. The amount of details and specifics you get to know about the crime is astonishing. Well done, Capote. 

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Matthew Barnard

University of Northampton

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

The book played a big part in the text used on the front cover - ‘thou shalt not kill’ because the town was mainly Christian, it is the sixth commandment and is repeated six times because of the 6 people who died, linking it all together. But the mean overall look of the cover comes from ‘Bastille Four Walls’, which is based on Perry Smith.

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Luke Smith

Coventry University

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

Partly the chilling content of the book, and partly other media including crime-based movies.

What does this book mean to you?

As a true story, it is interesting to see the events in the eyes of the author considering how terrible the murder case was.

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Lina Jabbari

University of Greenwich

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

A combination of both the content of the book and other designs. I became really wrapped up in how Perry's motives seem to be conflicted throughout the book - whether he was really after the money or had the desire to kill. I've always liked clean, minimal book covers with something bold to captivate the audience.

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José María González Sánchez

Falmouth University

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

Undoubtedly, the inspiration for my design was firstly the context of the book, and secondly a deep connection that I felt with one of the characters.

What does this book mean to you?

In Cold Blood means the worth of human life and its fragility.

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Joel Williams

Cardiff Metropolitan University

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

I was inspired heavily by the graphic artist Olly Moss. The use of colour, silhouette, and texture in his film posters really informed the art direction of my book cover design.

What does this book mean to you?

This book, for me, casts the villains as the main characters. I’ve tried to capture this in my cover design. Capote also empathises with the two murderers in a way that would have been unprecedented at the time it was written. A truly ground-breaking book.

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Eva Freeman

London College of Communication, UAL

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

I consider myself to be a portrait artist and I wanted to capture the essence of the characters by painting their portraits.

What does this book mean to you?

It effects me in an emotional way and I find it fascinating the way Truman Capote portrayed a different 'style' of journalism.

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Elliot Lee

University of Northampton

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

My inspiration was a conglomeration of research material regarding the book. I wanted to detail both a desolate Kansas, and also the rawness of In Cold Blood through sharp and creepy wall etchings, and also represent an old school prison.

What does this book mean to you?

The book demonstrates how factual evidence can be produced into a beautifully written, chilling and engaging narrative.

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Connor Lyon

Cardiff Metropolitan University

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

I've always been inspired by design that is strictly typographical, especially when the design holds multiple bits of information, so I thought I'd give it a go myself.

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Children's Cover Award

   

Paulina Chromik

Plymouth College of Art

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

I was inspired by other book cover designs I found in stores; I realised that limited colour palettes are the most effective. I was also influenced by 80s/90s fashion.

What does this book mean to you?

Reading this book, I was able to remind myself of my own childhood and the silly way of writing my own diary of daily events or crushes!

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Tin Sum Tiffany Chau

University of Gloucestershire

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

I believe reading someone’s diary is like reading someone’s mind. The idea behind my design is readers will find Adrian’s colourful teenage life by opening his diary, shown by his head.

What does this book mean to you?

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole was one of my favourite book when I was 13. It is hilariously funny. I really appreciate that Adrian always believes himself to be an intellectual, although his teenage life was full of worries and regrets. 

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Joseph Wheeler

Central Saint Martins, UAL

What's the inspiration behind your design?

I started by developing a few sketches, but wasn't quite feeling any of the ideas I had. I have always had a habit of doodling when sat with a pen - my exercise books at school were full of silly little illustrations of random things that came to my head. One day I was listening to the audiobook of Adrian Mole, looking for inspiration for the cover, and within minutes just doodled the name 'Pandora' in the corner of the the page. Before I knew it, this idea came out of nowhere.

What does this book mean to you?

I was born in the 80's, which is when this book is set, and I absolutely love that decade. The music is awesome and the films are ridiculously good! Reading the book made me want to go back to my teenage years, and live out those days again. It was so much fun.

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Holly Knowles

University of Hertfordshire

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

I’ve always had an interest in the way a teenage bedroom can act as a form of self expression and as a sort of time capsule. I felt very inspired by all the small, comedic details in the book and felt that depicting Adrian’s room would be an effective way to showcase these and capture his awkward transition from childhood into adolescence.

What does this book mean to you?

I absolutely relate to Adrian’s growing pains and his failed attempts to appear mature! I also love the way Sue Townsend creates humour through the mundane details of Adrian’s life.

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Emily Chaffer

Leeds College of Art

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

I wanted to produce a design that was classic, looking back at past covers, but also contemporary that reflected the playful and honest tone of the book.

What does this book mean to you?

I was intrigued by the character of Adrian Mole - his life being portrayed through the perspective of a diary provides a true and honest account of the pains of growing-up. He is an iconic character of fiction who’s story resonates across all generations.

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Charlotte Murray

Cardiff Metropolitan University

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

The main inspiration for my design was irony and satire, using the political commentary provided to us by Adrian Mole. Having read the book and understood the character’s loathing for Margaret Thatcher, I wanted to play on this idea in some way. By choosing a picture that looks full of movement and laughter along with the quote “The funniest book of the year”, I think it offers a really powerful insight into his thought process. 

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Carly Ayre

University of Northampton

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

I wanted to recreate a really eye-catching typical eighties visual, I drew a lot of inspiration from eighties graphic design and textile design.

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Beth Ewens

Leeds College of Art

What is the inspiration behind your design? 

The concept behind my design was to keep the tone of the cover classic and iconic while giving it a more modern and rebellious twist. It was inspired by a series of diary entries where Adrian is painting over the Noddy wallpaper in his bedroom with a tin of black vinyl paint which he acquired from his friend (It did not go well). The notion of being embarrassed by your childhood bedroom wallpaper is a feeling that many of the books readers will be able to relate to, and resonates with all young people making the transition into adolescence. It is a theme of the book which has transcended time and is still as pertinent today as when it was first published back in 1982.

Not only is it an iconic moment of the book, but it creates a visually engaging front cover, whilst simultaneously creating a sense of ambiguity for people who have not yet read the story.

I also looked at other books on the market that are aimed at the same target demographic to see what looked effective in terms of a book cover and what is popular, as well as looking at the previous cover designs for the book.

What does this book mean to you?

Having never read The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole before the competition I had no sentimental value to the book however I soon became a fan of Adrian’s uniquely hilarious yet pessimistic outlook on life and the blunt way in which he speaks his mind. I personally chose this category as I enjoy working illustratively and this cover allowed me to create a playful design that would appeal towards a younger target audience. 

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Alysha Moxom

Bath Spa University

What is the inspiration behind your design?

In a lot of my work I love using pattern and repetition. This influenced the making of the front cover using repeated quotation marks to fill the space, and create a busy but simple design. I chose the symbol of quotation marks because I felt is related particularly well with the book being a diary, as a diary is everything from someones thoughts, written down onto a piece of paper, so essentially is it like one massive quote.

With this design I wanted to push myself by purposefully making it look imperfect, I wanted the scribbles of the colouring-in to be visible, and every line to be a little wonky, as to me this gave the design a loose and friendly feel to it; also relating to a person aged 13 3/4 who’s diary would most likely have scribbles and small drawings on the cover and inside. I also aimed to keep the colour scheme simple by using only three bold and contrasting colours; the idea of this was to give the cover plenty of impact and make it stand out amongst other books.

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Stuart Wilson

Gray's School of Art, Robert Gordon University

What is the inspiration behind your design?

I wanted to create something that hadn't been done before for the book and I chose the quote as I wanted something provocative that would instantly grab the readers attention but not too rude as it is a childrens book. This is also why I chose red for the background. Eye catching.

What does this book mean to you?

To me the book represents many aspects of my own life. Growing up and being curious and cheeky at times.

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