Book Covers Have Awards, I Didn’t Know That!

Like, seriously. So much for the saying don’t judge a book by its cover, right?? Anyway, I don’t believe much in that saying ‘cos there’s been many times I was duped into buying a book based on a really appealing cover!

Simplicity shines as book designers take a crafty approach

The bee's knees ... judges praised the simple image by Anna Maley-Fadgyas (left). The young designer of the year, Allison Colpoys, won with a diverse portfolio (middle and right), Gayna Murphy won the literary fiction category (below right) and Toyoko Sugiwaka took the award for best designed book of the year (below left).
The bee’s knees … judges praised the simple image by Anna Maley-Fadgyas (left). The young designer of the year, Allison Colpoys, won with a diverse portfolio (middle and right), Gayna Murphy won the literary fiction category (below right) and Toyoko Sugiwaka took the award for best designed book of the year (below left).
Susan Wyndham Literary Editor
May 22, 2009

SQUIGGLY lines, wobbly handwriting and childish drawings were winning features at the Australian Publishers Association Book Design Awards last night. A reaction to electronic publishing, environmental concerns and hard financial times, perhaps?

The book with the best-designed cover of the year was Wild Bees: New And Selected Poems by Martin Harrison. Anna Maley-Fadgyas, 29, the in-house designer at the revamped UWA Press, said her final design “isn’t far removed from my original scribblings”, though she created the simple image of a bee’s flightpath with a computer program and mouse, then highlighted it in bronze foil against the black background.

The judges were impressed that the design “creates almost an aural effect” of buzzing bees, achieved “maximum effect with least elements” and “proved that you don’t have to be a big book to sweep the board”.

Wild Bees was also highly commended in the literary fiction category, which was won by Gayna Murphy/Greendot Design for One Foot Wrong by Sophie Laguna. The fragile cover illustration by Miranda Scoczek reflects the novel’s emotionally damaged child, and the judges said the book “starts with emotive appeal and gets more beautiful on every page”.

Simplicity, naivety and a handcrafted feeling ran through many categories.

Toyoko Sugiwaka, the Japanese-born winner of the biggest award – best designed book of the year – is also a photographer, felt- and toymaker. Her intricate work for Murdoch Books on Another Time Past Created, a photographic memoir by Brett Hilder, looks like a private journal with leather cover and some photographs stuck onto pages by the Chinese printing company. Also chosen as best illustrated book, it was described as “stunning in its visual and tactile communication”.

The young designer of the year, Allison Colpoys at Penguin, won with a diverse portfolio. She handpainted the watercolour cover of Air Kisses by Zoe Foster; used a new computer tool to place the title of In Bed With (an anthology of women’s sex stories) across a photograph of a woman; and met the slick “brand” requirements of Fishing For Stars by Bryce Courtenay.

But her most daring design, which was also named best children’s cover design of the year, relied on typography. For Something In The World Called Love by Sue Saliba, she handwrote the “long and beautiful title” and added a few “sweet and girly” sketches of a bird, a feather and a peg.

“I lean towards graphic covers and I prefer handmade things,” said Colpoys, 30, who moved from multimedia into book design 18 months ago. “When computers started everyone jumped on board and pushed the limits. Now everyone is hyped up again about craft.”

The Inside Out of Book Design is at the Sydney Writers’ Festival today at 10.30am, Bangarra Theatre, Walsh Bay.

Last year’s winners: Putting art on their sleeves

You can view the other winning covers in this link.

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