Richard Bravery on Book Cover Design

Bravery speaks to It's Nice That about Penguin's new illustrated covers
Cleon Peterson: Philip K. Dick, The Man In The High Castle
Georgia Hill: Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
Kristian Hammerstad: Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
Luke Pearson: Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim
Parra: Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle
From James Cartwright (It's Nice That):
The other week the good folks over at Penguin sent us a mammoth haul of brand new paperbacks covered in some of the best illustration we’ve seen on literary works for some time. The breadth of commissioning and the use of young and established talent was such that our interest was immediately piqued. So rather than just stacking them all up on our desks to show off what enquiring cultural minds we have, we got in touch with the art director responsible for them all to find out a little bit about his process and the talents he works with. Everyone, meet Richard Bravery, Richard, meet everyone…

Tell us who you are and what you do?

My name is Richard and I design book covers. Or a slightly longer explanation would be; I’m a cover designer for the publisher Penguin Books, where I work with artists, designers, editors and authors to produce books – which hopefully someone, somewhere will pickup and read.

How long have you been working for Penguin?

About six years. It’s a challenging place to work; they set the bar high and you are always aware of the history of Penguin and the designers who have gone before you. The reward is working for a company that is constantly evolving and encouraging you to do the same.

What was your background before then?

I studied illustration at Art School but quickly realised that I was surrounded by people far more talented than I was. After that I took something of a tangent into carpentry for a few years, before finally moving into publishing by way of a masters in design. I have always loved books and knew I wanted to be involved in the industry somehow. It just took me a while to realise where I fitted in.

You’ve recently commissioned a lot of illustration on new Penguin covers at a time when it seems not to be in fashion, why is that?

I suppose, rightly or wrongly, I’ve never really paid much attention to trends in the market. If after reading a book, illustration seems like the best solution then it’s just a natural progression.

Tell us about some of the illustrators you’ve been working with and how you came across them?

I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with some hugely talented people over the years, and most recently I’ve been working with Stanley Donwood, Cleon Peterson, Pete Fowler, Luke Pearson and Cat Johnston. Stanley I knew best because of Radiohead, but I was surprised just how broad and deep his body of work is. [Read More]

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