David Pearson offers Camus a contemporary search for Penguin

Albert Camus' work has taken on a new life in lockdown. Sales of The Plague – its story about the Algerian city of Oran where the bubonic plague broke out – rose 150%.

Although Penguin has commissioned a prepandemic, the re-issue of three Camus classics, including The Plague, The Outsider and The Fall, feels particularly timely given our current situation.

After David Pearson cut his teeth as a cover designer at Penguin in the early 1990s and was known for his carefully thought-out series of Great Ideas books, he took the chance to make a name for himself at Camus.

“I'm always especially excited when I'm designing for books that I've read and loved. All book designers have a checklist of authors they'd like to jump into, and Albert Camus was definitely one of me, ”says Pearson.

"Also, this job came to me by the nickname" Great Camus "which means that it is a spin-off from the" Great Ideas "series and therefore has the same design-centric approach and stylistic cues from the time that the Books were written. "

While each of the re-editions has its own color palette, such as The Plague's red circle graphics that indicate symptoms of bubonic plague, Pearson was drawn to abstraction in creating an overall aesthetic for the series.

“My first attempts were gestural and were rightly viewed as too visceral. A few well-placed words from Jim Stoddart, Art Director of Penguin Press, took me to a quieter, more suggestive approach, ”says Pearson.

“The border was a useful way of keeping order, but the fun part was subtly disrupting it. Use alternating, overprinted colors to create small anomalies throughout the print run. I enjoy this gentle sparring between formal and informal; a kind of silent riot in detail. "

For Pearson, the pleasure of designing for a writer like Camus always lies in the absurdism of his writing. "The absurdists are very attractive to book designers," he says.

“They allow us to play with tensions, opposites and abstractions. The kind of gameplay that would make a designer feel like creating interesting bags for interpretation. "

Great Camus reissues are available now. typeasimage.com