How would you describe your job?
My core responsibility is to make sure Vintage covers grab your attention, with the overall aim of creating a beautiful product. The majority of work I produce myself, but I am also regularly outsourcing work to photographers and illustrators, as well as handing over jobs to freelance designers.
New briefs come from the editorial team monthly, and the designers will get together and decide who will work on what. Once briefed, we usually discuss the project with the relevant editor to work out how to approach the job. For new fiction, we commonly have a manuscript to read, whereas non-fiction tends to be more research. There is constant contact with editors and publishers, and sometimes with authors themselves. Getting approval can be complex, but equally it can be as simple as getting a quick ‘OK’ in response to a jpeg.
It’s great to have such a creative position, and when you have an idea that comes together and you get a positive response to your work, there’s no better feeling. Being a designer is a job you live. You don’t switch off when you’re on holiday, because you’re always in search of new creative ideas, ways of working, typography, colours, patterns – the inspiration is endless.
What does a typical working day look like?
The majority of work is studio-based and at the computer, however I tend to do a lot of practical work – drawing, painting, printing (it’s quite common for everything to begin with pencil, ink and paper) – which I find suits me more. Research is a big part of the job and is done in a multitude of ways: visiting galleries, exhibitions, book shops, our excellent in-house photographic and graphic research library, online picture libraries and social media such as Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest.
Social media has added a new facet to our work – maintaining an online presence has become an essential daily process. It’s a good way for the public to gain insight into the background to our work. Our CMYK Tumblr site has its own Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Part of the change is that we now regularly produce GIF animations and other moving image for online use. Each year we produce a three-minute video for Penguin Random House Presents. It showcases our work and is art-directed by the team and created in-house.