beauty will save the world – coralie bickford-smith

Beauty will save the world pink




The other day, this gem landed in my mailbox! It’s just one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen since Tove Jansson’s “Who will comfort Toffle” from 1960. From the textile cover to the end paper, the design is thoughtful and well crafted – each spread a piece of gorgeousness revealed!

“The Fox and the Star” is a picture book by the talented graphic designer and illustrator Coralie Bickford-Smith. In 2015, it won the Waterstone’s Book of the Year Award followed by several others. What caught my eye with this book is the blend of Morris inspired pattern and sensitive character illustration. The narrative is a beautiful tale about surviving the loss of a loved one, where a little Fox find himself alone in the Forest when suddenly his friend the Star disappears.

For those of you smitten with book design as I am, you might have come across Coralie Bickford-Smith’s clever and classic book covers for several Penguin editions like the F Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Food or the Clothbound Classics editions. Her books are actually turning into collectables – which says a lot about the impact of her illustration style. With the Clothbound Classics, Coralie wanted to make keepsakes that people could collect and pass on, in contrast to the arising popularity of e-books that was said to threaten the market for printed edition some ten years ago. She believes in the book as an object and so do I.

But what first drew my attention to this young design star was the Great Food Series! As you know I am passionate about illustrated cook books and at some point in time I saw the covers of these, which really triggered my inner collector’s instincts!

The Penguin Great Food Collection by Coralie Bickford-Smith

After graduating from Reading University Coralie started out designing cookery and coffee table books. Seeing an ad in a national paper, she applied for a work at Penguin UK. When going for the interview she had no expectation of getting hired, being young and fairly inexperienced. But art director Jim Stoddard saw this extra something in her work and today, fifteen years later, she is still there and more over, one of their most successful cover artists up to date.

The inspiration from William Morris (1834-1896) and the Arts and Crafts aesthetics can be seen in much of her work, but another even more important influence is the poet, writer and printmaker William Blake (1757-1857) who wrote, illustrated and printed his own books. Making everything herself on her début book “The Fox and the Star“, from writing to illustrating and designing the cover, she is one of the few doing the whole process herself, exactly as Blake in his time.

There are plenty of interviews with Coralie on the net if you want more information about her working processes, inspirations and upcoming projects! Here she presents her work in her own words:

Do visit her website, and follow on Twitter! This is truly one of my strongest sources of inspirations as an illustrator!

“The Fox and the Star” NEW PAPERBACK EDITION OUT for children on 6th October 2016

All copyrights of the pictures belong to the artist Coralie Bickford-Smith photo credits





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