"Penguin Inks" Series
02:10 PM
Not that I spend a lot of time - or any time for that matter - reading Entertainment Weekly, but Jay Fingers from The Ministry of Cool and StereoCool brought this article to my attention the other night over some adult beverages at the Needles and Sins Compound.

Turns out that Penguin Books is releasing a "Penguin Inks" series "in which the publisher commissioned tattoo artists and illustrators to re-imagine the covers of six modern classics."

Of course, they fail to mention anywhere the names of these tattoo artists, so I can't exactly give credit where it's due.  In fact, it really wouldn't surprise me if they just hired an in-house design team to do something in a "tattoo style." 

Now that I think about it, I really can't understand why any of these books would need tattoo-centric cover art.  From the standpoint of a graphic designer, I don't understand how this stylistic choice represents or enhances the stories beneath the dust-jacket; other than a "Well, tattoos are cool" perspective.

What are your thoughts?  Anyone know who these artists are?

(Oh, and while I have my "graphic designer" cap on, I'd like you all to know that I did the cover art - as well as produce and engineer - a pair of indie/electro tracks for Alex Walker, available right now as a free download from Lapdance Academy.  You can grab them in high quality MP3 format right over here.)


Money, a novel - drawn by Bert Krak I believe

Bridget Jones Diary has to be Tara McPherson.
So tattooed artists, but not a tattoo artist.

"Waiting for the Barbarians" is Chris Conn.

Bridget Jones' Diary does remind me of Tara McPherson, but I didn't think it was her as I don't associate her with tattoo art.

Things that make you go hmmm ...

Bridget Jones' diary has got to be the least suitable book for a 'badass tattoo chick' themed cover.

Bridget Jones is McPherson, she's listed as illustrator on numerous sites with those books.
I agree, I don't associate her with tattoo art, just comic/posters.

hey brian, i'm the art director on these. why entertainment weekly would leave the individual artists names out of their piece is anyone's guess, but please know we use their names. alot. not just on the covers themselves, but in all our promotions.

just wanted to put that out there as were pretty darn happy when great artists accept our offers to do this and that, and we'd hate for anyone to think we gloss over them. quite the opposite in fact.

so you know how seriously i take hiring great talent, heres another series i direct that might make you rethink your inhouse-design jab:


paul buckley

Paul, please understand that I meant no disrespect to you or to any of your employees, freelance or in-house. I've worked as both an in-house and freelance designer for longer than I care to admit (primarily in interactive, with some dabbling in print) and I've worked on some great teams for some great art directors. I've also been forced - under some employers - to sacrifice elegance and usability so that someone can exercise their own ego trip.

(as the old adage goes: "a camel is a horse designed by committee)

As for why EW didn't publish the names of the artists, well... It's Entertainment Weekly. Their reader base cares a lot more about what LiLo is ingesting, rather than the illustrations on a re-released novel.

The work in your Flickr set is excellent and you have every right to be proud of your team!

I *do* remain curious, however, as to why the "tattoo aesthetic" was chosen for the Penguin Inks series. Can you offer me/us any insight?

hey brian, thanks for the response. the idea came about naturally - i spent a few years researching tattoo artists for personal reasons - to get a tattoo. i spent a long time doing this research and came to the a;; too obvious conclusion that, like the graphic novelists i work with, this is a profession that has many seriously talented individuals, who might be fun to work with, outside of their normal work sphere. so i pitched working with tattoo artists on series of books to the powers that be, and they thought, sure why not. the point for me, is to mix it up - books, like anything else, need new influences from time to time, and should not just be done by "book artists". the problem lies in some tattoo aesthetics being very particular, and how to match what artist to which book. in a situation like this i work with a team of editors and publishers and they choose the books - i will say "no" if i book seems absurd for the series, but i also like a challenge. that will naturally create discussion on blogs as to "why on earth this book?". but thats all part of it. i will admit though - of this first set of six, i think some are more successful than others for sure. sometimes it goes like that - you cant always know, or control, what you are going to get back from the other party, and vice versa.

Have been checking out some of the "penguin ink series" - have noticed them in shop (work at an indie bookshop" and did find that penguin listed (at least re: the martin amis book - "money" & ian flemming book) the tat artist on a cover page as well as on an insert contained in the book:)

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