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Young Designer of the Year Finalist: Jenny Haslimeier

PANZ Book Design Awards Young Designer of the Year finalist Jenny Haslimeier’s shortlisted work traverses topics as diverse as the Otago Peninsula, author Lynley Dodd and sustainable living. She talks about her start at Penguin Books, getting inspiration from strong typography and the joy of illustrating.

What three words describe your style?

Contemporary, sophisticated, versatile

What was your first paid commission as a book designer?

There wasn’t just one book, there were about eight, and it was my first week at Penguin Books! My first few months as a book designer at Penguin went by in a blur. It was demanding, hard work and a whole lot of fun.

What book inspires you with its design?

It’s impossible to narrow it down to just one book. I love books with strong typography, hand drawn elements and a bit of quirkiness.

What’s the best book cover ever?

Probably Jim’s Letters by Glyn Harper.

How much freedom do you usually have with a brief?

It depends on the project. Usually the publisher has a fair idea of what they want the book to be when it gets commissioned, and I will get a comprehensive brief to follow. Other times, the brief is less detailed and I can have more creative input.

Do you get to read the books before you start designing?

I have only ever been able to read one full manuscript before starting work on a book. There usually isn’t enough time between the manuscript coming in and when I need to start on the sample design. I try to make the time to at least read the introduction or first chapters of a book to get a feel for it.

Do you specialise in book design? How did you start?

Yes, I do now. I began on my return to New Zealand in 2012 when I briefly freelanced for Book Design Ltd, before accepting a permanent position at Penguin Books.

What’s been your dream project so far?

Any project where I can include my illustration skills is generally a dream job for me, such as Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce and Which Way Up? Both of these books helped me to develop more stylized illustrations that are very different to my usual realistic drawing style. Another dream project of mine was The Life and Art of Lynley Dodd. I had a lot of fun creating a design that really showcases Dodd’s work in an elegant and simplistic way.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for up and coming NZ designers?

I’ll share the piece of advice that was given to me: ‘Keep to the baseline grid!’

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