The common adage warns against judging a book by its cover, but when judging book covers, it’s only appropriate. This week, AIGA (the American Institute of Graphic Arts, a professional association for design), announced the winners of its Book Cover Contest 2020. AIGA Has Been Holding Fifty Books Of The Year Competition Since 1923, But The Competition Has Grown To 50 Books | 50 covers in 1995. The 2020 edition yielded 696 book and cover design entries from 36 countries.
This year’s competition was judged by Gail Anderson (Chair), Jennifer Morla, Paul Sahre and Kelly Walters, which weighed in on factors such as concept, innovation, and visuals such as typography, illustration, and information design. The winners gallery offers a range of approaches, from minimalist to typographic, with particular emphasis on hand drawn blankets – attributed to the penalties imposed on photo shoots by the COVID-19 restrictions.
Penguin Classics landed an award-winning spot for a five book box of lynchpin works by Audre Lorde, Kate Chopin, Nella Larson, Reinaldo Arenas and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which juror Jennifer Morla described as “a typographic eye candy: a colorful, horizontally oriented carousel of a series for Penguin “.
Tokyo Ueno Station (Riverhead Books) by Yu Miri features a hand-drawn cover in jewel tones, the genre that exemplifies the adaptive hand-drawn trend of 2020 with engaging simplicity. Black futures (Chris Jackson, One World, Random House) is groundbreaking text in many ways, but has been acclaimed in this context for its clean matte black cover punctuated with holographic lettering, as well as its interior design – all with the kind authorization from the design company Morcos Clé.
“The design of Black Futures beautifully captures images, text and essays in a contemporary non-linear experience. The editorial layout invites a playful exploration from start to finish, ”said juror Kelly Walters.
Of course, art books are at the forefront of an artfully crafted book competition. “Delirium”(Spaceheater Editions) by Philip Zimmerman presents half-tone illustrations that flirt with interpretive biology like an esoteric microcosmic riff on Ernst Haeckel Kunstformen der Natur (Art forms of nature) (1904). And internet sensation-turned-table-coffee-book-of-the-day Accidentally Wes Anderson (Voracious / Little, Brown and Co.) by Wally Koval compiles real-life photographs that, in the words of juror Paul Sahre, “perfectly capture the ‘thing’ of Wes Anderson.
These are just a few examples of an already exceptional area. Those with a keen eye for design should peruse the winner’s gallery carefully – while the cover doesn’t say much about the content, the engaging power of these covers can be overwhelming to aesthetic bibliophiles.
The lineup, which changes nightly, includes Anne Carson, Arto Lindsay, Lafcadio Cass and Rubin Kodheli.
Daisy Youngblood is a portrait sculptor whose themes include accepting her own mortality.
The project required 269,000 square feet of silvery blue polypropylene fabric, 32,300 square feet of red rope and the combined efforts of 1,200 workers.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful and very New York art events this month.