LWC talks to top book designer, David Eldridge

twoassociates1/Give us a brief biog. of you/your work? And a little about Two Associates?

I started my design career in the Penguin art department. At that time it was on the Kings Road and Peter Mayer had just taken the helm. It was a designer’s paradise within a paradise, sketching ideas on specially printed tracing paper pads the size of an A format paperback (111 x 181). Phoning through copy to the typesetters only to have it miraculously appear on your desk a couple of hours later. I was lucky to work for two very different art directors, one of whom wore a spotted bowtie. They both taught me rules that I still apply to this day.


After 4 years of this bliss I left to start a design company called the Senate with another Penguin, Stuart Brill. We had no idea how to run a business but amazingly people gave us work. With a combination of learning from mistakes and very long hours we managed to work on some pretty high profile projects for corporates, the music business and publishing. After 14 years of this we started to get the hang of running a business, then crashed and split up.


I then started Two Associates, this is our sixth year of trading. As Ira Glass says you have to have a volume of work behind you in order to understand how it hangs together (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hidvElQ0xE). We are a seven person team, each with our own skills so I think it works well and I don’t dread Monday mornings.



2/What are you working on at the moment?

We have quite a few different projects on the board at the moment, a launch identity for a new piece of audio equipment which has to be heard to believed. We also have various publishing projects, large and small, I also have an ongoing consultancy with Ebury Press for whom I have worked for many years.


3/How has digitalization influenced covers in your view?

I could rattle on about this for hours. It’s all about the time it takes to build a finished piece. When I first started out the craft was in drawing and making, it’s still the same ethic but it’s now contained in the software. I still scribble out ideas first, finding it faster but once the route map is made, I’ll find the detail in the mac. Hopefully the ‘scribble first ,then mac’ process stops my stuff from becoming too digital. Have a look at (http://prezi.com/) an all swirling media presentation tool, fabulous gizmo but without the surprise that a designer can bring, the samples all look a tad similar.


I embrace eReaders, I have a Sony and use it but it is rather clunky and the Kindle looks like it should be sold in Homebase so for me the iPad will change everything, it will enable good contributive design to emerge for the eBook.


4/What cover do you wish you had designed?

Anything that John Gorham touched (http://johnsonbanks.co.uk/thoughtfortheweek/index.php?thoughtid=392) but really so many beauties and so little space to list.


5/What are the components of a great cover?

Surprise, well spaced type and good colourways.


6/You work on the ‘inside’ of a book as well – what makes a great text design?

Understanding the voice and sensibility of the author’s intent, it’s a honed jazz trio, author on piano, publisher on drums and the designer colouring in on bass. You hum it and I’ll follow. Also a good knowledge of type could prove useful.


7/Are there trends in covers? If so, what trends are you seeing at the moment?

Hand drawn type, there are even books about books with hand drawn typography, can a trend improve with age? there are some howlers out there.



David  Eldridge Two Associates



Tel ? 020  8876 9463

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