Best book covers of 2018 – My pick of New Zealand’s finest

Throughout the year, I’ve been eyeing up the book covers of Aotearoa in order to create an assemblage of the most beautiful, bright, and bold. Luckily there were plenty of tasty covers to feast upon.

CoverGOLD: Poūkahangatus by Tayi Tibble

Cover art by Xoë Hall, published by Victoria University Press.
I had my eye on this one back in April, when VUP Books tweeted their cover reveal.The bold sexy colours! The snaky Medusa lettering!

This stunner of a cover is a perfect match for the badass fab poetry in Tayi’s collection.

I’ve had a look at more work by Xoë, and WOW WOW WOW. My eyes are so pleasured.

She designed that spectacular dress on the cover of Tami Neilson’s Sassafras record.

SILVER: Are friends electric? by Helen Heath

Cover by Kerry Ann Lee, published by Victoria University Press.

Helen Heath’s book is one of the year’s best; the poems are a compelling blend of earthy and intelligent. The beautiful tableau on its cover is by artist Kerry Ann Lee.

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BRONZE: Go Girl. Oh Boy.

Go Girl: A Storybook of epic NZ women by Barbara Else. Illustrations by Ali Teo, Fifi Colston, Helen Taylor, Phoebe Morris, Rebecca ter Borg, Sarah Laing, Sarah Wilkins, Sophie Watson and Vasanti Unka.

Oh Boy: A Storybook of epic NZ men by Stuart Lipshaw. Illustrations by Ant Sang, Bob Kerr, Daron Parton, Elliot O’Donnell (aka Askew One), Fraser Williamson, Michel Mulipola, Neil Bond, Patrick McDonald, Toby Morris and Zak Waipara.

Both titles published by Puffin (Penguin Books New Zealand).

This pair of books are a stand out. The bright sturdy covers, the diverse range of historic and contemprary Kiwis depicted, and the illustrations by New Zealand’s finest. An all-ages joy.

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BLACK AND WHITE AND READ ALL OVER

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TYPOGRAPHICAL DELIGHTS

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PERFECT SIMPLICITY

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FACES FRONT AND CENTRE

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GROUPS

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BOOKS OF POETRY RULE THE COVERS SCHOOL

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Browse more covers of New Zealand books published in 2018.

More best book covers

Best book covers of previous years

For more on local book covers and design, see the PANZ Book Design Awards.

Best book covers 2017 – My pick of New Zealand’s finest

It’s one of the pleasures as the year ends to slow down and smell the roses – or, in this case, stop and appreciate the book covers. Join me as I judge New Zealand books by their covers.

Christchurch Art Gallery

Gold medal winner for 2017 is our own Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu. It’s not a parochial choice. They’ve produced a standout series of publications to add to their award-winning output.

Aberhart starts here (by senior curator Dr Lara Strongman with Laurence Aberhart) is the companion book to the exhibition (on until 6 February 2018 – don’t miss it).  The striking cover cleverly matches Aberhart’s photo with the title added to the building as if it were graffiti, or a business name (in that attractive and distinctive typeface used in the exhibition). The text and the photos have been given room to breathe on the page. It’s a beautiful book with a kind of stately gravitas.

A more raucous beauty is Say something! Jacqueline Fahey by curator Felicity Milburn with Allie Eagle, Julia Holden, Bronwyn Labrum, Lana Lopesi, Zoe Roland and Julia Waite. Again, both words and images are placed to perfection on the page, with zingy pops of colour. The exhibition is on until 11 March 2018.

Christchurch Art Gallery have also made some rather stunning “Little Books” – (Birds, Sea, Flowers, Black – highlighting taonga from their collection. The covers are gorgeous, and the books have coloured page edges, foil, and ribbons to mark your page. Swoon.

The publication Bulletin always has outstanding covers to match its great content and striking internal visuals.  The colour scheme and Ann Shelton’s art on the cover of the latest issue are a visual symphony. B.189 had The Ramones on the cover!

Credit for this great mahi also goes to:

  • The students from the graphic design department at the Ilam School of Fine Arts who do the design on Bulletin;
  • Lecturer Aaron Beehre who is art director for Bulletin and who also designed the Little Books;
  • Photographer John Collie;
  • Designer Peter Bray who worked on the Aberhart and Fahey books.

Find books published by Christchurch Art Gallery in our collection.

Special mention

Illustrator Giselle Clarkson has had a phenomenal year.  Her art is full of life and fun. She created the much-shared biccies and slices taxonomy in Annual 2. Giselle does brilliant work in The Sapling, school journals – in all sorts of places and on wide range of topics (her natural history comics are fab). Kei runga noa atu – I would love to see a whole book by Giselle!

Here are some of 2017’s best covers:

Illustrators and artists

I particularly like the timeless quality of the first three covers. The historical tourist poster vibe of Maria McMillan’s The Sky Flier is quite striking too.

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Black and white and photographic

Photos are always a popular way of attracting a reader. I love the energy in Victor Rodger’s Black Faggot, showing the play in performance. and see that sense of motion and action in Floating Islander, Oxygen, and The Treaty on the Ground. In contrast see the stillness of Elspeth Sandys’ portrait, and the calm library depicted on the cover of The Expatriates.

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Colour

Magenta, lavender, pinky-purple – New Zealand book covers this year showed a bit of trend towards the pink side. I for one love it.  (Update: Spinoff books mentions book covers in their Second annual Spinoff Review of Books literary awards and picks the cover of Baby by Annaleese Jochems designed by Keely O’Shannessy as best cover).

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Te Reo Māori

Original NZ books in te reo Māori, and also translations of classics. It’s grand to see te reo front and centre.

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Aotearoa’s first bookface cover?

Tom Scott might be the first author to do a sort of #bookface cover. Well, technically, more #illustrationface – either way it’s a great cover.

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Cute as heck

Finally, let’s place together two critters that ought not be proximate. They are both so phenomenally cute …

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Browse more covers of  New Zealand books published in 2017

International “Best Book Covers” lists

Best book covers of previous years

For more on local book covers and design, see the PANZ Book Design Awards.

Best book covers of 2013 – My pick of New Zealand’s finest

This year has been a stellar one in New Zealand publishing, with a crop of splendid books coming out. And there are striking covers that deserve a round of applause.

I have grouped my favourites around themes. The standout for me is how cartoonists/comic artists are creating awesome covers, and not just for comics but for novels too. My two favourite New Zealand covers are Sarah Laing’s stunning illustration for Emma Martin’s Two girls in a boat and the weird skewing of space in the cover image of Pip Adam’s I’m working on a building. You can read about Sarah’s creative process in her blogpost The making of a book cover.
Cover of Two girls in a boatCover of I'm working on a building

Viva comics

Cover of Don't puke on your dadCover of Two girls in a boatCover of Max GateCover of The fall of lightCover of From Earth's end

Colourful eye-pleasers

Cover of Bizarre Bras Cover of BlueCover of The Lost Property departmentCover of New Zealand Interior StyleCover of Promoting Prosperity

Driven by text

Cover of Grumpy old menCover of Inequality

Potent simplicity

Cover of Sell!Cover of Murder at MykenaiCover of The LuminariesCover of The rope walkCover of Letters from Everest

Poetry

Cover of Snow White's CoffinCover of The Sound of wordsCover of Tear water teaCover of Us, thenCover of Wild Like me

Photographs

Cover of Wanted, a beautiful barmaidCover of The Royal ballet at 60Cover of Self PortraitCover of Matters of the heartCover of Nga Tau Ki MuriCover of Peter McLeaveyCover of Pictures they want to make

Playing with perception

Cover of I'm working on a buildingCover of Rising to the surface

See last year’s book cover tributes:

The colourful book covers of 2012

I posted earlier on the best book covers of New Zealand books this year. Here is another selection of the year’s best covers. There are two camps – The richly colourful:
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And the equally beautiful, more tonally subdued tomes:

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More book cover delights:

Best book covers of 2012 – New Zealand’s finest

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New Zealand books this year show a stunning range of covers. This is my pick of the year’s top covers.

  • Fonts and typefaces are being used to striking and singular effect.
  • Art books may have the advantage when it comes to a stylish cover, but even textbooks can make the cut.
  • Sometimes words are enough (see Geoff Cochrane and Sarah Jane Barnett).
  • Simplicity is powerful ( see Kobi Bosshard, Erewhon calling, and Simon Sweetman’s On Song)
  • Retro is popular – especially 60s and 70s.

Are there any standouts for you?

More book cover delights: