The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

David Pearson Found on the Shelves



At The Bookseller, designer David Pearson talks about his new cover designs for Pushkin Press’s ‘Found on the Shelves’ series celebrating 175 years of the London Library:

At the heart of successful series design is motif – be it colour, type, grid, imagery, or other visual touchpoints – yet Pearson’s latest covers for Pushkin are perhaps less obviously groupable. “The series identifier is a subtle one,” he says, “but it is present in the use of decorative borders. I had begun to explore this idea of active border-making with some of Pushkin’s Collection Covers; the idea being that a decorative border can provide a layer of meaning or a tension point within the cover, and not simply act as a framing device.

“For The London Library series, this takes the form of overlapping tyre treads in ‘Cycling: The Craze of the Hour’; snaking, northbound steam in ‘The Lure of the North. It’s a small thing to hang your ideas on – and it matters little if no one notices it – but it ensured that I didn’t flounder at the beginning of the design process, as I had something to kick against, an inbuilt challenge to wrestle with.”

Pearson attributes much of the covers’ liveliness to the illustration, which he is quick to credit: “I intend to broaden the illustrative scope [further titles are scheduled for November] but for this first selection I’m relying on tried, trusted and incredibly talented hands. Joe McLaren produced the illustrations for ‘On Corpulence’ and ‘Life in a Bustle’ – and as with all of Joe’s work, the result is joyous.” The additional images were sourced from illustrations within the texts themselves, giving some of the covers a distinctly vintage appearance.

Each of the covers will print using a spot colour – one outside the gamut of four-colour CMYK printing, as it cannot be created using a combination of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (“key”); as a consequence of this it is bolder, more vibrant and less ubiquitous (and therefore more striking) – and will feature black foil-blocking on uncoated paper stock.


On Reading design David Pearson

life_in_a_bustle_design_david_pearson_illus_joe_mclaren Cycling David Pearson


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