Since its founding by Sir Allen Lane in 1935, Penguin has made some of the best pairings of top-notch literature with art and graphic design. This imprint of specially designed paperbacks brings together some of its most distinctive contemporary books with the world’s top tattoo artists and illustrators. Here’s a look at the first few:
From Russia with Love
By Ian Fleming
Jacket Illustrator: Chris Garver
A game of cross and double-cross ensues – with the British Secret Service’s most infamous operative as both the stake and the prize – in this classic 1957 Bond novel of counterespionage. Chris Garver is widely considered to be among the world’s best tattoo artists. Featured on TLC’s highly rated series “Miami Ink”, his work has brought him across Asia, North and South America, and Europe.
Bridget Jones’s Diary
By Helen Fielding
Jacket Illustrator: Tara McPherson
This devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud account of a year in the life of a 30-something singleton created a veritable cultural icon and launched a whole genre in the mid-90s. Tara McPherson is a top poster artist who has created works for bands such as Beck and Modest Mouse, as well as the Oscar-winning film Juno.
The Bone People
By Keri Hulme
Jacket Illustrator: Pepa Heller
A mystery, love story, and ambitious exploration of the zone where Maori and European New Zealand meet, this 1983 Booker Prize-winning novel is a powerful and unsettling tale saturated with violence and Maori spirituality. Pepa Heller, the Czech-born owner of Bohemian Tattoo Arts in Tauranga, New Zealand, draws inspiration from Maori and Pacific styles.
By Martin Amis
Jacket Illustrator: Bert Krak
First published in 1984, this black comedy, often recognised as Amis’s best, offers a hilarious portrait of John Self, a man in relentless pursuit of pleasure. A master of classic American tattooing, Bert Krak works at Top Shelf Tattooing and Smith Street Tattoo Parlour in New York.
The Broom of the System
By David Foster Wallace
Jacket Illustrator: Duke Riley
This debut novel from the experimental and influential writer of Infinite Jest is an outlandishly funny and fiercely intelligent exploration of the paradoxes of language, storytelling, and reality. Duke Riley is the owner of East River Tattoo in Brooklyn, New York. Acclaimed for his unique interpretations of the urban landscape, he has participated in numerous art exhibitions around the world.
Here’s a heads up to bibliophiles and art and design lovers everywhere. If you’ve always wanted to know what goes into creating a book cover, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at a selection of 75 Penguin book covers from the last decade, with accompanying commentary from authors, designers and artists, as well as editors and long-time Penguin art director Paul Buckley (also the editor of the book). Contributors include Paul Auster, Daniel Clowes, Art Spiegelman and Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Also featured in the book is the Penguin Ink series, at #55.
Examples of the irreverent and often hilarious quips gathered in this book include this frank admission from a writer: “The cover perfectly captured the various interwoven layers of epistemological bogosity I was attempting – better, in many ways, than the actual book did. As one reviewer puts it aptly on my Amazon page, ‘I’m giving this book one star, but that’s only because of its awesome cover!’”