Judge These Books by Their Covers: Graphic Designer David Pearson

By Patrick Sisson / Published by Dwell
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A gallery show spotlights the acclaimed bookwork by British graphic artist David Pearson.

Familiar to generation of readers and schoolchildren, Penguin Classics are portable literary icons, a source of impactful writing and design since Brit Allen Lane launched the imprint in 1933. Initially priced at a sixpence each in England (the same price as 10 cigarettes) these memorable paperbacks were tangible pieces of Lane’s utilitarian philosophy: "I have never been able to understand why cheap books should not also be well designed, for good design is no more expensive than bad," he once wrote. Lane certainly never spared when it came to bringing in top talent to his publishing house; famed typographer Jan Tschichold contributed hundreds of designs.

The Myth Of Sisyphus by Albert Camus

David Pearson’s award-winning book designs for Penguin will be on display at London’s Kemistry Gallery from May 8 to June 28, 2014.

Graphic designer David Pearson, whose cover art for scores of recent Penguin releases and reissues will be displayed at a new solo show opening at London’s Kemistry Gallery on May 8, 2014, has been a bright light carrying on the imprint’s legacy. His type-driven work since 2004, especially for the Great Ideas series, has won him and Penguin acclaim and awards; he was named one of England’s 50 best designers by the Guardian, and an article in the paper notes that the Great Ideas series has sold more than two million copies, "roughly half of which, Penguin suspects, were bought because of their covers." Along with his contributions to French publishing house Editions Zulma and his own studio, Type as Image, Pearson’s work has elevated typography and helped turn these titles into works of art on multiple levels.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Book design by David Pearson

David Pearson’s show at Kemistry Gallery (43 Charlotte Road in Shoreditch, London) runs through June 28, 2014.

No More Rules by Rick Poynor

Book design by David Pearson

The Shining by Stephen King

Book design by David Pearson

An Apology for Idlers by Robert Louis Stevenson

Book design by David Pearson

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Book design by David Pearson

Horrors and Absurdities of Religion by Albert Schopenhauer

Book design by David Pearson

Patrick Sisson


During the course of his career writing about music and design, Patrick Sisson has made Stefan Sagmeister late for a date and was scolded by Gil Scott-Heron for asking too many questions. His work has appeared in Pitchfork, Nothing Major, Wax Poetics, Stop Smiling and Chicago Magazine.

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