Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Earl Bishop

When I was back home at Easter I picked up a copy of Stephen Price's book The Earl Bishop. The book is a biography of Bishop Hervey, the man who built the famous Mussenden Temple, one of the worlds most famous follies. As I'm from that neck of the woods it was nice to finally come across a book that told the story of the place and of the man who made it.
As a bit of a design challenge I decide to re-design the cover. I didn't have a design brief but as a rule I used all the elements that were on the existing cover and a turn around time of one day. The original cover looks like this, an uncharacteristic sunny day with a blue sky showing off the famous follie with a pillared wall echoing the monuments classic architecture which acts as a holding area for the books title and the authors name.
I started by researching architectural decoration of the period and mixed this research with the Antiqua series of classic texts. These are a real design treat and totally of their time. They were produced from the early 1900's in France and feature a refined yet restricted colour palette and a tidy visual framing which draws inspiration from classical Greek architecture.
The next step was to incorporate some of the actual architecture from Mussenden and start to work  these into the cover. One of the most famous parts of the site where the Bishop's stately home once stood is the Lion's Gate,(even though the two stone cat sculptures which the gate takes its name from are actually Ocelots). I drew a number of stylised sketches of the sculptures and continued to carry out a pencil sketch taken from a photo of the Temple itself. I inked these out, scanned them in and then played about with them in Illustrator, where I started creating the frame.

Like the Antiqua series I decided to stay with a two colour scheme. I chose blue and green simply because of the geography of the area and the relationship between the land and the sea. In case you have never been the Temple is right on the edge of a cliff looking out over sea, in fact the inscription that circles the temple it's self reads "Suave mari magno, turbantibus aequora ventis, E terra magnum alterius spectare laborem" which translates roughly as "Tis pleasant, safely to behold from shore, The rolling ship, and hear the tempest roar." and probably not "Agreeable husband very turbantibus the waters to toss in the air, out of earth large the second specter to sink" which I got the first time I fed the quote through an online Latin translator!
For the text I used Gill sans in caps for the titles and Perpetua Regular for the quotes and book blurb. I liked the balance between these two typefaces, the geometry of Gill sat well with the frame work while Perpetua Regular gave a classic book feel. One of the only deviations I made from my original brief was that I didn't use an actual portrait of the Bishop instead to fit with the graphic nature of the frame I decide to use a silhouette of the Bishop. The silhouette originated in the 18th century, so it felt apt that it could be included. While I was researching this I found out an interesting little fact about where the word silhouette comes from, if your interested click here!
Anyway the final cover back and front turned out like this:
It's by no means a final finished piece of design more a play around with genres, type and applying these to the elements of a pre-existing design. If any thing it has also been a bit of light design relief and fun to boot!


  1. Its really interesting to see someone else's interpretation of the design which I created it's different to anything i would have thought of.
    I'm just starting out in the design industry, my name is Catherine Watt, Stephen was one of my lecturers at college and asked me to design the cover for his latest book.
    I will be starting my first year at Northumbria university in September of this year.
    I used different elements of the existing architecture like the stone wall, vitruvian scroll design and the pillars to create the holding area for the author and title, I also tried to imitate the style of the engraved latin writing, in the text. I wanted it to look as authentic as possible. It took a lot of work getting the scroll detail to flow seemlessly and getting colours and shading right as I was working from different image sources.

    email: catherinewatt.92@gmail.com

  2. Hi Catherine,
    Thanks for getting in touch and explaining a bit about your design, I hope you don't mind my reinterpretation! Each designer has their own way of approaching a brief and this was mine, I'm sure if you gave it to another designer a totally different cover would appear. Good luck with your first year at Northumbria, Are you studying design? I hope you enjoy it!

  3. Thank-you Damian and you are welcome, and I hope I enjoy it too, I'm looking forward to it and the opportunities it will bring.

    Its nice to see what another designer would have came up with, I don't mind your re-interpretation of it at all, after all it's how we designers keep our talents fresh by setting ourselves design challenges.

    Having just completed studying Interactive Media Design at BTEC level, I'm going on to study it as a BA Hons degree. I just found out I got triple distinctions so I'm really happy about that. I thought it would be a good route to go down as I have always been good at tradtional art and already have skills in graphic and web design, 2D and 3D animation, and motion graphics and want to learn stuff like app design.

    I hope you don't mind I took a little peek at your website and through some of your impressive portfolio. It's well designed and is nice and clean and consistent! I hope to one day be as accomplished as you are. Have you any advice for someone like me who's just starting out?