U7 PRACTITIONER: David Pearson

DAVID PEARSON

BOOK COVER DESIGN

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"David Pearson started working at Penguin shortly after he graduated from Central Saint Martins School of Art. His first job at the publishing house was as a text designer, setting the type on the insides of the books. “It was a nice, sedate job”, he says, “you got to focus on the detail and lose yourself in the book.”

“Nobody really has an opinion on your work, unless you did it wrong. When I moved to covers it was quite a change to find that everyone has an opinion.”" - THE TELEGRAPH

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"In just under a decade since leaving college, David Pearson (b.1978) has emerged as an energetic and innovative advocate for serious and thoughtful book design. A self-described ‘technophobe’ (he doesn’t have a mobile phone), Pearson aimed for the heart of traditional publishing, going to the text department of Penguin Books straight from college in 2002.

In this new setting, he realised that high volume and quick turnaround meant that each designer, however lowly, had considerable autonomy. ‘As a junior you get the experimental projects that have no sales expectations,’ he says, referring to the ‘Great Ideas’ series, now in its fifth and final incarnation, that first drew attention to his talent as an art director.

Penguin editor Simon Winder had devised the ‘Great Ideas’ series after a visit to Italy, where he saw philosophy books on sale in tobacconists’ kiosks. Pearson decided that the cover for each bite-sized volume should be typographic, more like the frontspiece of a book than a conventional cover, and that the type or lettering on the cover should reflect the time in which the essays were written." - EYE MAGAZINE

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MY ANALYSIS

THE 'GREAT IDEAS' PENGUIN BOOK SERIES SHOWCASES PEARSON'S ABILITY TO AESTHETICALLY UNITE DIFFERENT STYLES THROUGH SUBTLE SIMILARITIES. THE TYPOGRAPHY SELECTED FOR EACH COVER ECHOES THE BOOK (IT'S CONTEXT AND CONTENT), WHILST THE APPLICATION OF THE SAME, LIMITED COLOURS AND EMBOSSING METHODS ALLOWS THE BOOKS TO COME FORTH AS A COLLECTION. 

PEARSON USES TYPOGRAPHY AS AN EQUALLY IMPORTANT AESTHETIC DEVICE TO IMAGERY ITSELF: THE TEXT IN HIS DESIGN IS SOMETIMES USED TO VISUALISE AN IDEA RATHER THAN TO DISCUSS IT.

I AM INTERESTED IN HOW PEARSON IS ABLE TO EXPRESS TEXT IN SUCH A VISUAL WAY, ALMOST IGNORING THE MEANING BEHIND EACH LETTER AND INSTEAD EXPLORING WHAT EACH LETTER COULD VISUALLY REPRESENT. 

THE FACT THAT PEARSON DESIGNS COVERS IN SERIES ALLOWS A UNIFORM STYLE TO BE CREATED AND RULES TO BE FOLLOWED, SIMILAR TO THE RULES OF TYPE. 

THE PUBLISHING QUALITY OF PEARSON'S BOOKS IS ALSO INTERESTING, USING BEAUTIFUL QUALITY PAPER AND EMBOSSING METHODS. HOWEVER, DOES THIS REFLECT THE COMPANY EMPLOYING PERSON INSTEAD? 

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