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Student wins Penguin book design award

Ellen Rockell

A student of BA (Hons) Illustration at Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) has been announced as the winner of a national design award by Penguin Random House UK.

Ellen Rockell, 22, has won the Penguin Adult Prize for her submission of a reimagined cover of Jonathan Coe’s contemporary classic What A Carve Up. Now in its eighth year, the Penguin Random House Design Award challenges students on an art or design course at HND or degree level to design a cover for a classic adult or children’s book.

Professor Hilary Carlisle, Dean of Arts and Design at NUA, says: “We are immensely proud of Ellen’s success in the Penguin Random House Design Award, which is indicative of the high regard the publishing industry holds for the work produced by students and graduates of BA Illustration at NUA. We have established a reputation for exploring and challenging the breadth of contemporary illustration practice and Ellen’s work encapsulates this ethos superbly.”

What A Carve Up

Ellen wins a cash prize of £1,000 and a four week work placement in the Penguin Random House design studio working on live briefs with the company’s Art Directors.

Ellen says: “The initial idea for my design sparked from the mention of Cluedo by the character of Michael Owen, and the relation of this to the murder mystery-style scenario that unravels at the end of the novel. Using the title as the main structure, I created a 3D model to act as a floor plan, with strong shadows adding a sense of mystery. As the novel was set in the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher was in power, I tried to represent the era through the use of floor patterns, and to also subtly suggest the divide in class and power.

“The competition has been a fantastic way of being able to showcase my work to an audience within the creative industry, and the placement is an incredible opportunity to gain first-hand experience working within a publishing environment.”

The judging panel for the award included Penguin’s in-house design experts Jo Prior, Jim Stoddart and John Hamilton as well as guest judges Rob Ryan and Petra Börner.

Petra comments: “The clear winner – this had it all. A great concept, striking design, strong colour ways and brilliantly executed.” Rob Ryan describes the winning entry as: “Brilliant – far and away the strongest cover. I would immediately be drawn to it in a shop. Clever and brilliantly executed.”

Penguin Press Art Director Jim Stoddart adds: “I loved this from the moment I first saw it! An amazing cover – innovative concept and very well finished.”