The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

February 23, 2017
by Dan
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Alan Aldridge 1943-2017

British artist and designer Alan Aldridge died last week aged 73. In the words of designer Mike Dempsey, Aldridge “was a major influence on the British design and illustration scene in the 1960’s.” Although he is perhaps best known for … Continue reading

January 27, 2017
by Dan
2 Comments

1984

The dystopia described in George Orwell’s nearly 70-year-old novel “1984” suddenly feels all too familiar. A world in which Big Brother (or maybe the National Security Agency) is always listening in, and high-tech devices can eavesdrop in people’s homes. (Hey, … Continue reading

October 3, 2016
by Dan
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Stanislaw Lem Penguin Modern Classics

A new Penguin Modern Classic edition of Mortal Engines by Polish science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem is available in the UK this week. Art directed by Jim Stoddart, this is the third of Lem’s books in the Penguin Modern Classics … Continue reading

August 16, 2016
by Dan
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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
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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

April 30, 2016
by Dan
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Jason Booher Interviewed at The Perch

Jason Booher, designer and art director of Blue Rider Press and Plume, talks to Penguin Random House blog The Perch about the book cover design process: A design can be thought of as a set of constraints or parameters. In … Continue reading

April 25, 2016
by Dan
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Penguin Galaxy Series design by Alex Trochut

Following on from their horror classics series selected by Guillermo Del Toro, Penguin US is publishing six hardcover science fiction and fantasy classics this fall with introductions from Neil Gaiman, and (more importantly!) brilliant typographic covers by Brooklyn-based Spanish designer Alex … Continue reading

November 20, 2015
by Dan
2 Comments

Penguin Short Stories

Cor Blimey! Tom Gauld for The Guardian. And, if you’re curious, the rather splendid covers for the actual two volumes of The Penguin Book of the British Short Story were designed by Matthew Young:

October 16, 2015
by Dan
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The Poster Boys on Penguin Design

This month on the Poster Boys podcast, designers Brandon Schaefer and Sam Smith look back at 45 years of Penguin design history from the early years of the company under the direction of typographer Jan Tschichold to the work of art director David … Continue reading

October 2, 2015
by Dan
3 Comments

The Pelican Shakespeare Series Design by Manuja Waldia

Continuing with the recent series design theme here on The Casual Optimist, creative director Paul Buckley let me know about new set of covers for the Pelican editions of Shakespeare. The covers were designed by newcomer Manuja Waldia, who studied Graphic Design at NIFT, New … Continue reading

August 25, 2015
by Dan
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The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith

At the Penguin blog, the remarkable Coralie Bickford-Smith talks about The Fox and the Star, a new book she has written, illustrated and designed: The inspiration comes from a place of personal experience that I wanted to document. It’s a life … Continue reading

March 9, 2015
by Dan
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Ladybird: Designed for Small, Tiny Hands

As previously mentioned, Ladybird By Design is an exhibition of over 200 of original book illustrations from the late 1950s to early 1970s currently on display at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill on Sea. In this short film, Lawrence Zeegen, curator of … Continue reading

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