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.