Penguin Books reveals the winners of its 2024 Cover Design Award

The winners of Penguin’s 2024 Cover Design Award

Competition was once again fierce for this year’s prestigious awards by Penguin Books. We reveal the winners of its annual prize where creatives get a remarkable opportunity to showcase their talents.

Today, Penguin Books has announced the winners of its popular Cover Design Award, which sees aspiring designers and illustrators reimagine the covers of bestselling Penguin titles. The judges went through over 1,800 submissions this year, choosing one winner for three different categories (children’s, adult fiction and adult nonfiction), plus second and third-place awards.

For the children’s cover design award, creatives had the wonderful opportunity to recreate the City of Stolen Magic by Nazneen Ahmed Pathak. It’s a spellbinding fantasy adventure with threads of magic, secrets, and colonial history. The brief was to “engage the book’s core audience of children aged 9 to 11 and imaginatively convey the book’s key themes”.”

Charlotte Jennings scooped the top spot for her entry that focused on colour and shape language to convey the protagonist’s journey from beginning to end. Charlotte used a spiral composition to guide our eye around the cover. “I used orange hues to depict the warmth and familiarity of India along with its connection to Chompa’s fiery magic,” she explains. “All is silhouetted by the complementary blue colour of the sea and the date palm, pointing directly at the mysterious, cooler-toned city of London. At the centre of it all is Chompa, wrapped up in this chaotic adventure full of intrigue and magic.”

Anna Billson, art director at Penguin Random House Children’s, adds: “A very much deserved win for a very accomplished design. The smart use of colour and the considered balance between the multiple illustrative elements combine to make a striking and inviting cover which opens up the world inside the book. The development from the initial submission to the final design has been really well executed, showcasing a strong design eye for both illustration and typography.”

Second and third place went to Evan Connolly and Karin Keratova, respectively.

George Griffiths, winner

James Gregory (2nd) & Craig Ferdinando (3rd)

Nazneen Ahmed Pathak, author of the book, admits choosing the winners was difficult. “I was really touched by the amount of care and attention everyone shortlisted had devoted to the world and characters – and there were so many original, creative approaches to the brief. The winning entry, however, stood out immediately for me. It’s such a strong, graceful cover, and I loved Chompa’s expression of serious intent, which encapsulates her character and draws me in.”

For Adult Fiction, designers and illustrators had the chance to reimagine the cover for Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins-Reid. The Sunday Times bestseller turned into a smash hit Amazon Prime series; the novel follows the inner workings of an iconic rock band. The brief asked entrants to create a cover that nods to the heady haze of the ’70s whilst making it clear to the reader that the book is entertaining, aspirational and something that exists within the world of popular culture.

Cadi Rhind‘s entry impressed the judges the most. On her inspiration, the South Wales-based illustrator said: “Growing up, car journeys were soundtracked by my father’s love for 1970s Californian music. This influenced my love for that era and its creative world of album artwork and gig posters. This, paired with my love for vintage typography and design, is my inspiration.

“The magic in Taylor Jenkins Reid’s book is how it sparked the same electric feel I had when discovering my musical influences of this era. The interests and influences I’ve carried in my life shaped the artist I am today, and the Daisy Jones world exists in the same realm that has so richly inspired my creative journey.”

Cadi Rhind, winner

Max Bicknell (2nd) & Rebekah Sinclair (3rd)

On why Cadi’s entry stood out, Richard Ogle, art director at Transworld, said: “There’s a confidence in the use of type and colour that reflects and builds on the references to the 1970s aesthetic, and Cadi’s reminiscences of family car journeys soundtracked by her father’s love of ’70s music, like Eagles and Joni Mitchell, really feels like it has filtered through to the authentic, yet contemporary, resonance of the design.”

Second place went to Max Bicknell, and third was Rebekah Sinclair.

Finally, for Adult Nonfiction, the cover design of Atomic Habits by James Clear was up for reinvention. The phenomenal international bestseller reveals how to transform your life with tiny changes in behaviour. Entrants were tasked with “encapsulating the book’s accessible and inspiring message in an immediate and engaging way”.

First prize went to George Griffiths, whose design focused on the concept of the “combination of small, different habits, building and layering together to have a larger effect than they would on their own,” he explains. I created my design by taking small rips of cardboard, paper, and other physical materials and piecing them together to form the words’ Atomic Habits’ – just as small habits piece together to transform your life.”

Charlotte Jennings, winner

Evan Connolly (2nd) & Karin Keratova (3rd)

One of the judges, Richard Bravery, art director at Penguin General, said it’s a “beautifully layered, well-crafted design that subtly alludes to the narrative of change and habit”.

James Gregory won second place, while Craig Ferdinando was third.

The winner of each category will receive a six-month mentorship programme with a member of the Penguin Art Department – a brilliant opportunity for emerging artists looking to build a career in book cover design.

Along with the second-prize winners of each category, they will also receive a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium tablet and Penguin Random House design books to the value of £100. The third-prize winners of each category will receive a Wacom Intuos Medium tablet and Penguin Random House design books to the value of £100. Congrats to all the winners!

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