A book without a printed cover and title seems incongruous to us today but until the late nineteenth century few books had the sorts of covers we are now accustomed to. Traditionally, books were hand-bound with covers made of wood, leather, silver or gold or even ivory. Many were decorated but for much of the books’ history, titles did not appear on the front. The heavy materials that were used for binding existed only to protect the expensively printed pages. By the nineteenth century those materials changed to cloth and paper and for the first time it became possible to print on covers. Alternatively, paper covers were wrapped around traditionally bound books, but still mostly for protection (as the term ‘dust jacket’ suggests), in many cases to be disregarded at home after purchase. Paperback books, although they existed in the nineteenth century, only started to become acceptable and widespread from the 1920’s onwards. Albatross Books, a short-lived project in Germany pioneered the first popular paperbacks but it wasn’t until 1935 when Allen Lane launched Penguin Books in Britain that mass-market paperback books with distinctive cover designs really caught on. This was echoed in the United States by Robert de Graaf’s Pocket Books (1939). Surprisingly perhaps, only in 1960 did the total sale of paperback books in the US surpass that of hardback books. With the development and spread of the advertising and publicity industry in the beginning of the twentieth century, concepts of packaging and marketing began to be applied to every conceivable industrial product and service. Publishing was no exception.

Nowadays, publishers fight for our attention and we have long become accustomed to books being displayed with covers facing towards us. Paradoxically, the essence of a book is that it cannot be viewed in one glance, only in sequence, one page at a time. Except for the cover, which is the only part of a book that can be viewed in one moment. Considering the number of books that exist, designing covers is not an easy task. In a competitive market place a cover must be able to distinguish itself from the others that surround it. For the designer, the creative challenge is demanding but highly rewarding; to create a gateway into the world the book represents.

This exhibition displays over 400 cover designs by 56 designers from 14 countries. As part of, and in the spirit of the Idioms series, of which this is the sixth exhibition, Gateways is both an exploration and a celebration of yet another form of graphic design that is part of our daily lives. In gathering together a selection of memorable, often ingenious and frequently beautiful contemporary book covers from around the world, the exhibition aims to display the range of graphic and conceptual approaches and solutions that designers utilise in their endeavours to capture the essence of a book, and by doing so, our attention also. In addition to the work submitted through an open call, the exhibition features the work of david pearson and jon gray, two outstanding contemporary cover designers from the UK, especially invited to participate and whose work occupies a separate section of the exhibition. The exhibition also features the work of other especially invited designers including Ariane Spanier (Ger), Helen Yentus (US), Paul Sahre (US), Coralie Bickford-smith (UK), Clare Skeats (Uk), Juan Pablo Cambariere (Arg), Gregg Kulick (US) and Jamie Keenan (UK).
Andrew Howard, curator.

(The text above is an excerpt taken from the beginning of the introductory essay by Andrew Howard in the book ‘Gateways’. See ‘publications’ in main menu)
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Matt Avery – USA
Barbara Says – Portugal
João Bicker – Portugal
Coralie Bickford-Smith – UK
Erich Brechbühl – Switzerland
Ulrike Brückner – Germany
Nathan Burton – UK
Juan Pablo Cambariere – Argentina
André Cruz – Portugal
António Cruz – Portugal
Yulia Dvoeglazova – Russia
Estuary English – UK
Pedro Falcão – Portugal
Tomothy Goodman – USA
Jon Gray – UK
Jenny Grigg – Australia
Harper Collins – UK
Eric Heiman (Volume Inc.) – USA
Jason Heuer – USA
Alfons Hooikaas – Netherlands
Leonardo Iaccarino – Brazil
Susanne Jung – Germany
Jamie Keenan – UK
Gregg Kulick – USA
Perttu Lämsä – Finland
Mariana Magalhães – Portugal
Pedro Marques – Portugal
  David Pearson – UK
Julia Propisnova – Russia
R2 – Portugal
Alberto Rigau – Puerto Rico
Liron Ross – Israel
Sagmeister Inc – USA
Paul Sahre – USA
Robert Schumann – Germany
Clare Skeats – UK
Ariane Spanier – Germany
Adi Stern – Israel
Charlotte Strick – USA
Studio8design – UK
Studio Andew Howard – Portugal
Studio Laucke – Netherlands
Studio Makgill – UK
Tank Form – UK
Nick Teplov – Russia
University Of Washington Press – USA
Viction:ary – Hong Kong
Diogo Vilar/miguel Salazar – Portugal
Miriam Visser – Ger/Switzerland
Walker Art Centre – USA
Webb&webb – UK
Winterhouse – USA
Helen Yentus – USA
A special thanks to David Pearson and Jon Gray for agreeing to participate in such short notice; to Matthias Hübner for sreading the word; to Manuel Gaspar for the giant books in the exhibition corridor; to Rita Carvalho and Pedro Pina in the Studio, and to all the designers who submitted their work.
Studio Andrew Howard
Israel Pimenta