The Book Covers Category celebrates the skill required to create an enticing visual hook that encourages readers to get stuck into their new favourite book.

This is no easy feat; combining great illustration, graphic design, and often working as part of a team including a publisher, designer and author, it can be the make or break for new publishing releases, so getting the cover right really matters. Our highlights round up the commissioned entries shortlisted for this category.

The Book Covers Category was judged by:

  • Hannah Wood, Women’s Fiction Art Director at Little, Brown Book Group
  • Alceu Nunes, Creative Director, Grupo Companhia das Letras (Penguin Random House Brazil)
  • Michelle Mackintosh, illustrator and book designer

View all the projects shortlisted in the Book Covers Category >

Anna Xenz: The Wild Book by Juan Villoro

Anna was commissioned to create an illustration for the cover of the Russian edition ‘The Wild Book’ about the magic of reading, friendship and growing up.

The illustration is made using mixed media including pen and gouache, plus digital work. This work is very personal, reflecting the artist’s own family life. It was commissioned by Polyandria Print.

Anna Xenz is an illustrator, graphic artist and designer based in Saint Petersburg, Russia

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Jack Smyth: Bluebeard

This illustration was made for 4th Estate’s reissue of Kurt Vonnegut’s classic, featuring a new font created by Jack called Kurt, which is heavily inspired by other classic mid-century style fonts. The font is stretched and distorted, dripping down the tin of paint. The font took two years to make. The final illustration is created digitally.

Jack Smyth is a freelance book jacket designer from Dublin, currently working from his studio in London.

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Dion MBD: Asha and The Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan

Commissioned by Scholastic, this wraparound dust jacket uses pen and ink outlines, with colour and textures added digitally to enhance the image to create an enchanting and magical scene.

Brooklyn-based Dion MBD works specialises in publishing, editorial and TV commercial projects.

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Melissa Castrillon: Philip Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS

Melissa was commissioned by Scholastic UK to produce new gift editions of the His Dark Materials Trilogy. Each cover design uses stylised shapes, a limited colour palette inspired by the original covers, including foiling in two layers for a luxurious feel and visual impact. Beginning as pencil drawings, the illustrations were layered and completed digitally.

Melissa Castrillón attended the Cambridge School of Art and earned a 1st Class BA in illustration in 2009 and a MA in children’s book illustration in 2014. She still lives in the city of Cambridge, UK.

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Laura Wachter: Annie Ernaux Book Series

Spanish-German illustrator Laura Wächter was commissioned by Tusquet Editores to make a re-edition of four of Annie Ernaux’s books that were previously published in 1993 with a more contemporary design.

Laura was chosen for her particular style, and this series of covers are created in photoshop on an isometric grid to create the sense of perspective.

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Sarah Papworth: Conte d’antan

This illustration was commissioned for the cover of an anthology of short children’s stories by Fleurus Editions Publishing in Paris, France.

The cover combines elements from several of the stories in interesting ways, using layers of forms and a silhouette to create an intriguing and complex image. The piece is created using a mixture of pencil rough drawings, and handmade textures and finishing touches were added digitally.

Sarah lives and works in the UK as a freelance illustrator.

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Saurabh Garge: A Night In the Hills

This cover was commissioned by Amazon Westland Publishers India for the cover of a short story collection by author, actor, and director Manav Kaul. The cover is inspired by the central story, in which the tourist is baffled by his taciturn companion on a dark and scary night in the hills. The cover shows the two characters with a slight overlay of canvas texture, with the interplay of their shadows on a title which placed in the shape of a curved moonlit road as central image surrounded by stylised tree-like shapes. The piece was made digitally using overlays of digital textures.

Saurabh Garge is based in India, and has worked with global publishers including Harper Collins, Penguin and more.

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Mari Kinovych: An Atlas Traced by the Sky by Goran Petrovic

An Atlas Traced By The Sky is the second novel by Goran Petrović to be translated to Ukrainian. Mari created the book cover his first novel and this new cover retains the graphic feel of the first.

The cover uses geometric forms to convey the exterior world of uniform buildings, and a warmer inner world is shown using handmade imagery, echoing the magical interior world. The cover was commissioned by Ukrainan publishing house Komora.

Mari Kinovych is a Ukraine-based artist, working living in Kyiv.

View the complete entry >

View all the projects shortlisted in the Book Covers Category >

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