The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

August 16, 2016
by Dan
1 Comment

Paul Buckley Cover to Cover

At Observer, Penguin creative director Paul Buckley, talks about his new book Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover. I particularly enjoyed this epic rant on designing covers for new books: New books, this piece of writing, everything is riding on that new cover. … Continue reading

August 15, 2016
by Dan
0 comments

New Penguin Essentials

The latest additions to Penguin’s ‘Essentials’ series, released this month, have some rather splendid new covers, including Jon Gray‘s wonderful design for Embers by Sandor Márai, Julian House’s typographic design (with echoes of Robert Brownjohn) for The Spy Who Came … Continue reading

July 1, 2016
by Dan
0 comments

Elda Rotor: The Woman Who Runs Penguin Classics

CNN Philippines interviewsd Elda Rotor, vice president and publisher of Penguin Classics at the Penguin Random House in New York: The main joy is bringing an audience to a work that would otherwise lead a quiet life, not having the … Continue reading

June 19, 2015
by Dan
0 comments

Simenon’s Island of Bad Dreams

At the NYRB Blog, John Banville reviews Georges Simenon’s novel The Mahé Circle, translated into English for the first time and now available from Penguin Classics: Simenon was a driven creature, who in his lifetime wrote more than four hundred books, drank and … Continue reading

February 22, 2013
by Dan
9 Comments

You’ll Never Get Anywhere Like That

Or a Few Thoughts on the Cover Design of The Bell Jar (An Illustrated Essay of Sorts) In his recent essay ‘Graphic Design Criticism as a Spectator Sport’ designer Michael Bierut (author of 79 Short Essays on Design) suggested that … Continue reading

April 25, 2012
by Dan
1 Comment

The Penguin English Library

Award-winning director Woof Wan-Bau has created a wonderfully weird animated short for the launch of the  Penguin English Library: (via Ace Jet 170)

March 28, 2011
by Dan
1 Comment

Penguin Threads Deluxe Classics | Jillian Tamaki

Award-winning Canadian illustrator and cartoonist Jillian Tamaki (Gilded Lilies, Skim and Indoor Voice*) has embroidered (embroidered!) three beautiful cover designs for a new classics series Penguin Threads to be released this Fall. They are all breathtaking. There are more details … Continue reading

February 18, 2011
by Dan
1 Comment

Something for the Weekend

Punching Through the Din — designer Jim Northover on the exhibition of Saul Bass movie posters at Kemistry in London. This is the End — Sarah Weinman on chronicling the end of the chain bookstore era: But maybe what really … Continue reading

August 5, 2010
by Dan
0 comments

Coralie Bickford-Smith’s Fitzgeralds

Not only does the talented Coralie Bickford-Smith, senior cover designer for Penguin Press, have a spiffy new website, she has also unveiled her stunning metallic cover designs for Penguin’s new editions of  F. Scott Fitzgerald. Coralie is now on Twitter, … Continue reading

September 21, 2009
by Dan
9 Comments

Q & A with Paul Buckley, Penguin US

Photo by Erika Larsen. Design by Paul Buckley It is not every day that I get an email from the Vice President Executive Creative Director of Penguin US, so it was something of a surprise when Paul Buckley sent me … Continue reading

September 15, 2009
by Dan
7 Comments

Q & A with Coralie Bickford-Smith, Penguin Press

Coralie Bickford-Smith was one of the first book designers I mentioned on The Casual Optimist and her distinctive cover designs have featured regularly ever since. While Coralie’s work for Penguin clearly draws inspiration from the Arts & Crafts Movement and … Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: