New Work: Nabokov Covers for Penguin Classics
Angus Hyland and his team have designed the covers for the entire backlist of titles by Vladimir Nabokov, one of the most acclaimed authors of the 20th Century. Penguin is publishing the 24 new books in three batches over a year.
The brief by Penguin’s Art Director, Jim Stoddart, was to move the covers away from the sombre approach used in previous editions and to focus more on the playful and satirical aspects of Nabokov’s writing in the hopes that this might encourage a new generation of readers.
Pentagram suggested three possible solutions, and Penguin chose one that initially appears traditional, incorporating symmetrical typography in a box with a decorative border. However, Hyland subtly subverts this classical approach. Each cover features a different game, sport or visual illusion used as a background pattern echoing the contents of the book. Beyond that the covers were commissioned out to illustrators who were then permitted to deface the strong typographic grid. The illustrators composed their work around the fixed elements of the title and the author name, and in some instances their work overlaps elements of the branding.
Illustrations were provided by Alan Baker, Christine Berrie, Luke Best, Masumi Briozzo, Astrid Chesney, Agnès Decourchelle, Marion Deuchars, David Foldvari, Michael Gillette and Slawa Harasymowicz.
Last fall Pentagram participated in the repackaging of Nabokov’s US backlist, published by Vintage.