Farley, Lee and Ewens win PRH Student Design Awards

Farley, Lee and Ewens win PRH Student Design Awards

Madalyn Farley, Elliot Lee and Beth Ewens were revealed by Penguin Random House UK last night (21st June) as the winners of its 2017 Student Design Awards.

The three winners - awarded PRH's Adult Fiction Cover Award, Adult Non-Fiction Cover Award and Children’s Cover Award, respectively - will receive a work placement within the PRH UK design studios, as well as a £1,000 cash prize.

Each winner was selected from a shortlist of 10 designs in their category by judges consisting of PRH designers and managing directors and guest judges from across the design industry. 

The awards attracted 2,100 submissions in total. According to the judges, the winning covers were chosen because they each demonstrated "an original interpretation of the brief, showed a good understanding of the marketplace and appealed to a contemporary readership". The judges were also impressed by "the imaginative approaches and competent execution" taken by each of the students.

Jim Stoddart, PRH art director and a judge in the Adult Non-Fiction category, said he would encourage the winners, and all those shortlisted, to pursue a career in cover design. “Design is hugely important to everything we do at Penguin Random House. Great design helps to bring our authors’ words to life; it gives our books an identity and ensures they stand out whether on the bookshelf or a small screen.

“Working as a book cover designer is a challenging and sometimes demanding job, but it’s also deeply rewarding. There aren’t many design careers that let you experience so many diverse, exciting and creative briefs.

“The Student Design Award is a brilliant opportunity for our design teams to see what new and fresh perspectives young designers can bring to our iconic books. I want to congratulate all our winners for the bold, eye-catching designs they produced - and encourage them and all the shortlisted students to consider a career in cover design.”

All three winning designs

Madalyn Farley, a student at Kingston University, won the Adult Fiction Cover Award for her cover design for Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. The judges, comprising Transworld's art director Richard Ogle, Vintage art director Suzanne Dean, and Sarah Hyndman,  said her design employed "a bold, graphic solution" and had managed to illustrate the main themes from the book "with layers and simplicity". 

Farley said: “The left hand is significant in To Kill a Mockingbird as a key symbol of innocence, whereas the open palm suggests vulnerability – two key themes of the story that inspired me. 

“I included the small bird-foot detailing in the creases of the hand to subtly reference the title without using the obvious mockingbird imagery. The writing in the creases of the hand refers to fate and is my way of linking the title to the story. The bold contrast in colours refers to racial divisions in 1930s America, another core theme in the book that inspired me to create this cover.”

Elliot Lee, a student at the University of Northampton, won the Adult Non-Fiction Cover Award for his monochrome cover design for Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. Penguin General Books m.d. Joanna Prior, one of the category's five judges, said: "We liked its monochrome, stark clarity. The journey to the finished piece was interesting and the response to the art direction moved the design on to an even better result. We all loved it."

Lee added: “My creative process initially started with researching old, American-style prison mugshots, followed by different representations of the height charts. Though the images of Richard Hickock and Perry Smith were important to ideation, it was an old image of the famous Steve McQueen prison photo that was a huge influence on my final concept. I felt that the hand-drawn visceral lines provided me with the chilling and shocking aspect the book has, in a simple way.”

Beth Ewens at Leeds College of Art won the Children’s Cover Award for her take on The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (aged 13 3/4) by Sue Townsend using the character Noddy for a wallpaper effect. The judges, including PRH UK Children's m.d. Francesca Dow, hailed it "bold, funny, subversive" and "instantly striking". 

“The concept behind my design was to keep the tone of the cover classic while giving it a modern and rebellious twist. It was inspired by the iconic moment in the book where Adrian paints over his Noddy wallpaper with a tin of black vinyl paint," said Ewans.

“Being embarrassed by your childhood bedroom wallpaper is a feeling that many of the book’s readers making the transition into adolescence will be able to relate to. It is a theme of the book which has transcended time and is still as pertinent today as when it was first published back in 1982.”