Penguin Random House UK is collaborating with the Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft to bring lovers of book cover design 20 years of Penguin Essentials; a showcase of 100 iconic covers from the Penguin Essentials collection which spans the last 20 years.
The Penguin Essentials series was launched in 1998 as a collection of modern classics with thought-provoking, striking and unconventional cover design. The launch was led by Art Director, John Hamilton, who purposefully commissioned a diverse and eclectic selection of creatives from around the world – from graffiti artists to tattooists to illustrators to fashion designers – to rethink and reinvigorate the covers of modern classics.
Many of the creatives John and his team have commissioned hadn’t designed book covers before and were not tied to the norms and formulae of cover design. John has famously instructed his designers to “do what you do” and ignore publishing conventions, resulting in one of the boldest, most creative and daring book series of the last 50 years, featuring work from Banksy (Nick Cave, And The Ass Saw The Angel), Chris Ashworth (William S Burroughs,Junky) and Tomato (Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange).
Now, John has selected 100 of his favourite covers from the collection to feature in 20 years of Penguin Essentials, which will run from Saturday 6 January to Sunday 29 April at the Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft. The exhibition also precedes the launch of a new selection of Penguin Essentials, due to be published in July 2018.
John Hamilton, Art Director at Penguin Random House UK and the founder of the series,said:
“We’re thrilled to be celebrating 20 years of Penguin Essentials alongside the Ditchling
Museum of Art + Craft. The launch of the Penguin Essentials in 1998 was a watershed
moment in book cover design, bold and daring reinventions of modern classics from artists
and designers worldwide. I’m excited that we are finally able to bring together the fantastic
work of so many of the talented individuals who have worked with us over the years to create
this iconic series.”
Each edition was published in batches of 5,000, so they aren’t always in stock and haven’t been reissued over the years. The exhibition is a great chance to see the covers that are no longer available.
A new collection of Penguin Essentials will be released in July 2018 so now is a great time to visit this exhibition and have a look back at what was created.
20 years of Penguin Essentials will run from Saturday 6 January – Sunday 29 April 2018 at the
Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft (Lodge Hill Lane, Ditchling, East Sussex, BN6 8SP). Admission is free.
Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft was founded by Joanna and Hilary Bourne in 1985 and holds an
internationally important collection of work by the artists and craftspeople who were drawn to the
village. The sculptor, wood engraver, type-designer and letter-cutter Eric Gill, calligrapher Edward
Johnston (responsible for the famous Johnston typeface used for London Underground), painter
David Jones, printer Hilary Pepler, silversmith Dunstan Pruden and weaver Ethel Mairet. The impact
of the many artists and craftspeople who came to live and work in Ditchling from the beginning of
the 20th century onwards established this village as one of the most important places for the visual
arts and crafts in Britain.
In addition to its permanent collection, the museum presents twice yearly exhibitions inspired by
these inspirational arts and crafts, and includes a lively programme of events, workshops and talks.