Faber & Faber focuses on illustration for short story collection

Covers for the Faber Stories collection bring together 90 years of writing using classic Berthold Wolpe type and a neon coral colour palette

The publishing house worked with 20 different illustrators to create the covers, which had to reflect a range of work from the 1930s to present day – including a previously unpublished Sylvia Plath tale.

In-house designer Jonathan Pelham, who oversaw the project, says bringing together such a diverse set of short stories was a “daunting task”. “The most trouble-free route would have been to opt for a more Spartan type-on-a-grid design, but we were keen that each story should have its own visual presence,” he told CR.

Top image: Illustration by Laura Berger; above image: illustration by Charlotte Ager
Illustration by Luke Bird
Illustration by Niall McCormack

The covers follow in the footsteps of German designer and typographer Berthold Wolpe, who created covers at Faber & Faber for 34 years. Titles of the books are shown in his Albertus typeface, while body copy is in Pegasus. However, unlike many of Wolpe’s covers, which pushed the type to the fore, Pelham decided to slide the author name and title into the corners of the books, to let the illustrations “do the talking”.

“It seemed right to pay homage to Faber’s design heritage but we also very much wanted to avoid pastiche or falling into ‘retromania’,” he explains. “Hopefully something of Wolpe’s integrity and immediacy is reflected in these covers, even if many of them are wildly out of step with anything he would have produced himself.”

Several of the covers draw on motifs from the story itself, such as The Lydia Steptoe Stories, while others, like Three Types of Solitude, take a more abstract interpretation.

The Faber Stories collection will be published in early 2019; faber.co.uk

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