2018 Shortlist


We are delighted to announce the shortlisted candidates for the Penguin Random House Student Design Award 2018. Art Directors from Penguin Random House have provided each of the shortlisted designers with detailed feedback on their original covers, giving the students the opportunity to refine and resubmit their designs before the final judging takes place.

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

Adult Fiction Cover Award

   

Simon Breese

Billy Blue College of Design, Australia

What is the concept behind your design? 

For the cover image I wished to embody the essence of the story rather than illustrate a single element or event in the tale. I was inspired by soviet propaganda posters. The Title and Author typeface is one named Sloan, which is used for eye-tests, and which emulates the Constructivist style and remains highly legible.

For the central figure I chose to focus on Napoleon, who represented Stalin in Orwell’s novel. Napoleon is shown in my design as the ultimate overlord of Animal Farm, in a pose presenting confidence in his authority over the lives of the animals in his domain.

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Emily Courdelle

Norwich University of the Arts

What is the concept behind your design? 

My cover design for Animal Farm is based on the notion of hierarchy which is prevalent through the novel. I have placed the animals in a specific way that mimics the order of power that develops throughout the story. I have used a cardboard background and textured, worn, organic illustrations to reflect the atmosphere of the farm and convey the destruction that occurs there. I have used a simple colour scheme to depict both power and danger; these colours were frequently used in design during the Russian Revolution, the era that Animal Farm satirizes. 

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Louis Hartley

Northumbria University

What is the concept behind your design? 

For my design I chose to focus on the primary theme within the book and really boil it down to the primary interaction between characters: inequality. Every action within the book boils down to this word, this theme. I chose the red to grab attention, but also to show that this is a story with a lot of intense themes.

 

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Raemarie Lee

Kingston University

What is the concpet behind your design? 

This minimalist, flat design references the book without overtly showing the image of a pig or communist elements. I employed basic shapes to create a symbol which, in the context of Animal Farm, is clearly recognizable as a reference to the story’s central characters. The ‘snout’ is set against a sombre, stone-like texture that calls to mind the brutalist style often associated with communist architecture.

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Daisy Moore

Kingston University

What is the concept behind your design? 

After reading Animal Farm I thought a lot about Napoleon and his role as influencer and controller of the group. Collage is a medium I enjoy using as it is easy to juxtapose themes in a bold, graphic way. I experimented with images of butchers, farmers and teachers with pigs’ heads to convey this idea of animal as human. I used shadow to show Napoleon’s human characteristics as it is symbolic and powerful; I experimented with shadow on the text and the images but finally chose the written-over text with chalk to hint at rebellion and education.

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Mulenga Musonda

University of Brighton

What is the concept behind your design? 

The content of the book provided the concept behind my work; my main aim was to create a bold, striking image which gripped people and made them want to stop and observe. As the pigs are the main protagonists of the book and are painted as the ‘bad’ guys, I wanted to do the opposite by showing their innocence and how power can change a character, no matter what colour or size. The soldier symbolizes the firm, assertive alter ego of the main character, Napoleon. I wanted the colour to symbolize the emotion that the reader will feel after they read it.

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Joshua Payne

Falmouth University

What is the concept behind your design? 

This concept is based around the direct storyline from the book, represented through its historical context. The cover paints an image of a figure that could be man or pig, attempting to portray the idea that you cannot tell where one ends and the other begins. This is a very important part of the book (the pigs’ metamorphoses into the humans they have previously overthrown) and has been portrayed in the historical context and symbolism of the book, showing the human half of the figure as a representation of Joseph Stalin.

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Joanna Ruane

University of Huddersfield

What is the concept behind your design? 

My inspiration came from old soviet propaganda posters, as well as using features of the book to influence my design. For example, Napoleon/Stalin was far more evil and brutal than Mr Jones, and one of Napoleon’s greatest crimes was dressing like a human. Hence why we have an evil pig in a suit commanding animals. The windmill signifies many important references to the book, for example it was used to represent the technological advancements of the Soviet Union, and also as a symbol to exploit the differences/intentions between Napoleon and Snowball.

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Sascha Sendlbeck

University of Derby

What is the concept behind your design? 

Napoleon the pig is depicted as a puppet master who controls and manipulates the other animals. He also has human hands instead of hooves and wears clothes, because of the pigs gradually changing to behave and look like humans. His sleeves have blood stains, because of the pain he caused and the executions he arranged to ensure his power. The animals are attached to the puppet strings and facing the windmill which symbolises their never-ending labour. I used the colour red, because this was the colour of the soviet communists, the colour black because of darkness and cruelty of the story and olive green because it was the colour of military uniforms in the soviet communism.

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Alva Skog

Central Saint Martins

What is the concept behind your design? 

My aim was to make the cover communicate the strong political theme of the book. In order to highlight the book’s relevance for a present-day (and young) audience I looked at how political messages are now being communicated and shared between young people. While social media, newspapers and political pins are important, I came to the conclusion that political messages are often communicated in graffiti and street art. Therefore I decided to use the stencil style of street art and, inspired by the protest artist Paul Peter Piech, I made a stylized version of the cut-out letter.

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Adult Non-Fiction Cover Award

   

Robert Benniman

Gloucestershire College

What is the concept behind your design? 

The concept was to create a design that at surface level is very digestible for even the youngest readers of the book, but also represents some of the most interesting and complex thoughts to be had about cosmology and the universe. Which is why the orange colour is sampled straight from the photo of the Pillars of Creation, and thanks to the advancements of great minds such as Stephen Hawking we can recognize and observe the origins of our universe. The origins that have gifted us such great minds as his.

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Zoe Boukouvala

Bath Spa University

What is the concept behind your design? 

Time is the ‘context’ we live in. It forms our schedules, counts our days, passes slowly or runs out, going only forward. But when in space, rules change; Stephen Hawking redefined the way we perceive time in A Brief History of Time by putting science, astronomy and philosophy in simple words.

Therefore, the essence of time as we know it is redefined on the cover design as well, with the use of ‘distorted’ simple, universal symbols that measure ‘conventional time’ in an abstract scenery of outer space and astronomy elements.

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Fiona Cheung

Coventry University

What is the concept behind your design? 

My concept begins with the possibility that things can get out of a black hole: both to the outside and, possibly, to another universe. Also, the idea of ‘black holes are not as black as they are painted’.

I used the ends of the front and back cover as the entrance and exit of the black hole: the title is being dragged inside it. If black holes are not as black as we thought, surely it is possible that the objects or lights that are travelling inside them have colours, only we cannot see them from the outside.

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Cameron Edwardson

Coventry University

What is the concept behind your design? 

The content of the book heavily inspired my design for the cover of A Brief History of Time. I have taken influence from quarks, light interference and black holes to create a graphic that aims to capture the depth and thought-provoking nature of Hawking’s work. The outermost discs are intended to portray light spectrums and interference around a black hole while the innermost disc containing solid black symbolizes the black hole itself.

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Fergus Frost

Central Saint Martins

What is the concept behind your design? 

My design uses the format ‘book cover’ for an analogy of spacetime. The front contains a galactic structure with a black hole in the centre (not black but black holes emit light). The image was made by crumpling and piercing a printed-out design and then scanning it back in. The paper acts as a flat representation of the four-dimensional fabric of spacetime: ripples occur, holes are made, high mass has a pulling effect on things. After considering colour I decided to keep the cover monochrome. I was going to make each letter ‘H’ glow orange to represent the hydrogen (H) that is formed in stars (as the characters on the cover quote represent stars). However, everything from oxygen to iron is produced in stars too, so it doesn’t make sense just including hydrogen. Also it is quite a complex cover, I tried to make the continuity of the concept present everywhere, so I don’t think it needs any colour.

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Helen Kellock

Glasgow School of Art

What is the concept behind your design? 

Drawing inspiration from the theory of the Big Bang, my design spreads across the cover in a vivid explosion of ink. I balanced the energy within these marks with a generous use of white space, harmonious colour palette, and clean central Geometric Sans Serif font, all of which serve to tie the design together and communicate both the freshness and the clarity found within Hawking’s writing.

 

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Graham Robinson

Stockport College

What is the concept behind your design? 

In his book, Stephen Hawking gives special prominence to the laws that govern gravity. It is gravity that shapes the large-scale structure of the universe even though it is the weakest of the forces. This was the starting point for my initial experiments with typography (the pulling forces). His theories about black holes and later thoughts on Quantum Physics fitted nicely with the multi-dimensional visual illusion of my developmental typographic experiments. His recent ideas that 3D reality is an illusion and is stored and projected from a flat 2D surface also add weight to the final visual interpretation.

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James Seabright

Northumbria University

What is the concept behind your design? 

I was inspired by the idea of a moment of creation in the universe and what this may look like. Through my design, I explored light projection as a way to visualize this concept. Spectral colours combining together on a dark, empty background created a shining, multi-coloured typographic illustration. I used red and blue to symbolize the opposite sides of the colour spectrum, reflecting the beginning and end, echoing the Doppler effect – a key concept in charting the universe’s expansion. The colour combination is also a patriotic nod towards Hawking himself – ‘the most brilliant British scientist of his generation’.

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Harry Woodgate

University of Hertfordshire

What is the concept behind your design?

I wanted to create something that would stand out from existing designs, and which reflected how groundbreaking Hawking’s work was. I produced several concepts but this to me captured the essence of the book – distilling an incredibly complex and multilayered subject into something elegant and simple, whilst still being challenging and unconventional. I took inspiration from different theories, including colour shift, multiple dimensions and the expanding universe, and tried to communicate these purely through colour and type – there was something almost poetic to me about using those fundamental building blocks of design to illustrate a subject which explores, essentially, the building blocks of the universe.

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Stephen Young

University of Hertfordshire

What is the concept behind your design? 

This design is heavily based on the idea of a notepad/book and gives the impression of having been once used by a scientist, and the handwritten title emphasizes the fact that the book was written by Stephen Hawking. The inclusion of the wormhole/black hole is intended to clash with the monotony and normality of the notepad/book grid pattern as it would be astounding to see such a scientific event unfold, especially on a sheet of paper. This is also incorporated on the back cover, which creates a path through the book from the front to the back.

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Children's Cover Award

   

Emily Courdelle

Norwich University of the Arts

What is the concept behind your design? 

My cover design for Noughts & Crosses portrays the problematic relationship between the novel’s main characters. The hands and figures represent the characters’ attempts to reach out to each other. My use of simplistic illustration and hand-lettering has allowed me to symbolize elements of the story whilst appealing to a younger audience. The lettering on the back cover feels as though it could have been written by one of the characters, as shown in the rough and uneven styling. The contrasting colour scheme is simple yet bold, and the pops of yellow catch the audience’s eye and give the cover a polished feel.

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Fruzsina Czech

Ulster University

What is the concept behind your design? 

Noughts & Crosses (Malorie Blackman) provides an experience through the two main characters, Sephy and Callum. The novel tells us about their relationship, and how it grows, it is so personal, I felt it was important to include them as key elements in my design.

Monochrome colour was chosen to show the contrasted personalities, alongside adding sophistication to the look. Introducing red as an accent was an afterthought, taking Anna Bilson’s advice on board.

The simple aesthetic, inspired by the cover of Varoom magazine (6/2/18), dictated to not break the clean look, so I hand-lettered the title and blurb within the characters.

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Jade Devanna

Hugh Baird University Centre

What's the concept behind your design?

The inspiration behind my design was reading about Callum's execution for his involvement with Persephone.  It echoed similarities between the lynching’s and persecution of African-Americans in the United States of America, particularly the Deep South.  I immediately thought of Emmett Tills tragic story in 1955. The Black panther party 1966 with Bobby Seale, Huey Newton and Malcolm X, and the racist rallies that drew out large crowds to witness men, women and children being murdered through lynching and other methods of torture.

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Heléna Doré

Plymouth College of Art

What is the concept behind your design? 

My inspiration for my design was to create something that holds deep symbolic meaning to the story. Noughts & Crosses focuses on fighting against society, and so I chose to represent this through a defaced school-book. Wrecking a piece of school property, although small, is an act of rebellion against authority.

Further, as Heathcroft High School plays a pivotal role in the narrative, I wanted to make the book appear like it could exist within the story, created by the characters themselves. The rose petal, fingerprints, wine stains, tear drops, wire and secret Liberation Militia symbol not only add to this aesthetic, but also subtly make reference to the plot and emotions covered by the author.

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Kay Hamers

University of Northampton

What is the concept behind your design?

The Crosses have a high self-image, they are privileged and can do everything that Noughts do not get a chance to do. Because the Crosses are so condescending to the Noughts, there are fights and quarrels between the people. Noughts want to have the same rights and opportunities as the Crosses and they want to fight for that. With my design, I wanted to show the fight between the two and that the Noughts would like to show that they also exist and matter.

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Katie Hilton

Blackpool & the Fylde University

What is the concept behind your design?

Noughts & Crosses was an interesting book that I hope to have captured with my design. From the offset I knew I wanted to avoid the obvious black and white stereotypes that have been used on nearly all of the previously published book covers. As the book is targeted towards children I wanted the design to be vibrant and catch the eye of a younger generation. The design reflects the Noughts and Crosses in a subtle way from the sparks and the nought behind the ampersand and the tiny dots across the background.

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Emma Hope

Glasgow Clyde College

What is the concept behind your design? 

My cover design for Noughts & Crosses is based on the relationship between the two central characters, Sephy and Callum. The large X represents the Crosses’ rule over society, with Sephy being placed at the top and Callum at the bottom to represent their individual ranks. Their arms are outstretched to one another in order to symbolize their love and struggles, as the racial divide in their society keeps them apart. Due to the dark themes and tensions between characters in the story, the overall style is relatively grungy and damaged to reflect this.

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Lucy Scholes

Falmouth University

What is the concept behind your design? 

The idea was inspired by the quote: ‘All our lives criss-crossing but never really touching. A world full of strangers living with all that fear.’ The concept visualizes how throughout the narrative the two main protagonists’ lives become increasingly tangled and intertwined. The strips weave the internal dialogue of the two characters, using black strips to represent Sephy and white strips for Callum. The concept shows the gradual forming of a Nought and a Cross’s viewpoint as it is shaped by their experiences, showing often differing views of the same event.

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Lydia Townsend

Northbrook Metropolitan College

What is the concept behind your design?

I was inspired by Jamie Reid’s work for the Sex Pistols and wanted to capture that angry, vibrant, energetic feel of his design. Graffiti is often associated with teenagers and rebellion, and so the spray paint seemed an appropriate visual language to use, positioned as if to try to block out the Noughts, and relating to the racially-charged climate of the book. I wanted to contrast the deliberately loud colour scheme and expressive mark-making with a more neutral approach to typography, so I selected the bold sans serif font, Bebas Neue. The finished design is intended to convey the sense of rebellion and violence that ensues when the Noughts start to fight back.

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Saskia Wright

Nottingham Trent University

What is the concept behind your design?

My design concept is inspired by the lack of freedom within the story and the limitations associated with the Civil Rights Movement, the underlying metaphor of the book. The emotive barbed-wire symbolism is hand-rendered to suggest human fragility and vulnerability, and threatening spikes provide a graphic cross. In contrast, the Noughts are identified in the soft pulse of lyrical, handwritten titles. Chalkboard typefaces locate the novel in the schoolroom. The single use of the barbed-wire fence reflects the hierarchical theme of the novel and introduces a tone of conflict and tension.

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