12 August 2009

The Pelican Brief

I'm a bit of a sucker for good design, in fact in many aspects of my life style and design have a tendency to win out over substance, as evidenced by a shockingly large assortment of Apple products, Nokia phones, and happy plastic noisemakers from Korg sitting forlorn and unloved on my shelves. However when it comes to books I thankfully don't have to choose between style and substance, at least when it comes to the clean crisp lines of a classic Penguin or Pelican.

I'm a huge fan of the Penguin Great Ideas series, and will admit to buying the new Penguin editions of 1984 and Animal Farm purely for the Shepard Fairey covers; The new white-spined editions of the Penguin Modern Classics line are great, but nothing really comes close to the original editions from the 40's to the 70's. The evolution of the Penguin style over the last 70 years can be seen quite strikingly at The Art of Penguin Science Fiction, a fan site from someone who appreciates great book design as much as I do, but possibly has a little bit too much time on their hands.

I'm obviously not alone in this appreciation, as fans have done mock-ups in the Penguin/Pelican style of everything from Harry Potter books to video games, and the style continues to be an inspiration for generation after generation of graphic designers.

While walking past Whelan's recently I noticed that the current range of posters for Foggy Notions gigs have also taken this classic style as their inspiration. Quite different to most of the other posters on display, eye-catching when presented in a series, and yet strangely anonymous in that they suggest nothing about the bands themselves.

They did make me stop and pay attention to them though, and that, I suppose, is the ultimate object of any poster, and a sign of good design that does its job well.

Update: Stupid feckin' BoingBoing, yet again copying my idea for a post. I'm getting tired of these 'coincidences'... Nice link to The Pelican Project though, which traces the evolution of the Pelican cover over 50 years.

Update 2: While rereading 'Penguin By Design', I came across the design for the cover of a 1967 edition of poetry by Heine, by Henning Boehlke, which turns out to have been used above in the poster for Dirty Projectors. Looks like the Foggy Notions' designers were more than just 'influenced' by classic Penguin design...

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At 1:20 pm, Blogger 2BiT said...

If yer liking nice design this mini-fest might be of interest to ya:

At 2:06 pm, Blogger Unkie Dave said...

looks seriously interesting, advertisers, branders, taggers, designers and Dave McKean - price seems a bit steep for someone outside the industry to go to. Wait a minute, I was in the industry, I should totally go! Wahoo!


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