University of Northampton students will be judged by their covers by Penguin Random House

News Page 12th June 2017

Three students from the University of Northampton have had the opportunity to design a new front cover for two well-known books, which has led to them being shortlisted for the Penguin Random House Student Design Award and are currently on display at this year’s Degree Show.

Elliot Lee, Matthew Barnard and Carly Ayre are all in the final year of the BA (Hons) Graphic Communication course and were tasked with creating their own version of a modern book cover for either ‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote or ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾’ by Sue Townsend.

The Student Design Award aims to find the next generation of book cover designers by giving students the opportunity to experience real cover design briefs first-hand.

Elliot and Matthew both chose ‘In Cold Blood’ for their covers. A real life murder investigation, American author Capote details what happened after a family of four were found dead in their home in the small farming community of Holcomb, Kansas.

Elliot took inspiration from finding different research material surrounding the story. He said: “I wanted to detail both a desolate Kansas and also the rawness of ‘In Cold Blood’ through sharp and creepy wall etchings, and also represent an old school prison.”

Matthew based his design on religious beliefs as Holcomb, where murders took place, was a mainly Christian town. He explained: “The book played a big part in the text used on the front cover, especially the phrase ‘thou shalt not kill’. This is because the town was mainly Christian, it’s the sixth commandment and is repeated six times representing the six people who died, including the killers themselves which links it all together.

“The overall look of the cover comes from the song Four Walls’ by Bastille, which is based on one of the killers, Perry Smith. This particular song helped me to form an emotional understanding of Perry Smith and what his story was, as well as helping me to understand the book overall. A line I find that particularly stuck with me was ‘Now we’re faced with two wrongs’ which to me sums up the book as a whole.

“It’s amazing to be shortlisted for this year’s Penguin Random House Student Design Award, especially as my design was picked out from so many entries from other universities.”

Carly opted to design a cover for the ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ which was the first of the Adrian Moles series and was written in a diary-style format detailing the woes and worries of a teenage boy who believes he is an intellectual.

She said: “I wanted to recreate a really eye-catching typical eighties visual, I drew a lot of inspiration from eighties graphic design and textile design.”

Art Directors from Penguin Random House will now provide each of the shortlisted designers with detailed feedback on their covers, giving the students the opportunity to refine and resubmit their designs before the final judging takes place in June.

The winners in each of the three categories will receive a work placement within the Penguin Random House UK design studios, as well as a £1,000 cash prize.

Elliot, Matthew and Carly’s work will be featured along with other students from a variety of courses from the Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology at this year’s Degree Show. This will be running from Saturday 10 to Friday 16 June at the University’s Avenue Campus.

Pictured: Elliot and Carly with their designs

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