Penguin: Final Updates

The Penguin project was lowest on my priority list for making final updates because it was such a short project, and doesn’t have a design document. However, I’m in a position in submission week where I have time to make some final updates, which is really positive and I’m really happy with my time management at this point. Last year, I really struggled with time management and would always leave things until last minute, get really stressed and therefore not create my best work. I feel that my time management skills have improved drastically over the year, mainly due to taking on more freelance clients (I currently do around 15-20 hours a week of freelance work). This has forced me to manage my time more efficiently, which has been a really positive move forward for me, and is something which will benefit me lots in the future when taking on more freelance work or obtaining a job.

Penguin updates:

Outcome at formative submission:

At the formative submission stage in January, I received some really useful feedback from Carol and my peers:

The comments were all very similar in that they suggest I include more pastel colours within the jenga blocks themselves. Carol also agreed, and suggested that I make even more use of the blocks on the back cover of the book, to make the design work even more dynamically, as a whole composition (rather than a back and a front).

I started by adding pastel colours to the jenga blocks themselves. I started by adding colour to every block:

However, I thought that this looked a little too colourful and overpowering, so I changed some of the less prominent blocks back to white, and I think this is a more even balance and contrast between the pastel colours and the neutral white:

Next, I added some colour to the blocks on the back cover. I feel that this really helps make the front and back work together more fluidly:

Although these revisions were very minor, I think they have made a huge difference to the final outcome. This really reinforces the fact that small revisions can be key in taking a project to the next level. This is something that I’ll take forward into my future freelance work.

Penguin: Launch

Today David and Carol launched our next project Penguin. As I did this project during my 2nd year, I applied the knowledge and skills learnt this year (as this time I only have 1 week to complete the project).

I chose to design the children’s book cover, which this year is Talking Turkeys by Benjamin Zephania. This book features a number of short poems. Major themes in the poetry relate to the British Empire and his favor of dis-establishing the British Crown. He considers himself an anarchist and condemns the acts of slavery and crimes against humanity towards his people and other minorities, going on to publish anthologies relating to his experiences and perspective. He has also touched upon homophobia in the Jamaican community as well as the importance of a vegan lifestyle.

Benjamin Zephaniah is a British Jamaican poet known for his dub poetry and anti-empire stance. Having grown up in Birmingham to an underprivileged neighbourhood of predominantly fellow Jamaicans, Zephaniah struggled a lot, academically, throughout his childhood.


After having read through the book a few times, one poem stood out to me as being memorable and catchy:

We Refugees (Excerpt)

I come from a musical place
Where they shoot me for my song
And my brother has been tortured
By my brother in my land.

I come from a beautiful place
Where they hate my shade of skin
They don’t like the way I pray
And they ban free poetry.

I come from a beautiful place
Where girls cannot go to school
There you are told what to believe
And even young boys must grow beards.

I come from a great old forest
I think it is now a field
And the people I once knew
Are not there now.

We can all be refugees
Nobody is safe,
All it takes is a mad leader
Or no rain to bring forth food,
We can all be refugees
We can all be told to go,
We can be hated by someone
For being someone.

We talked with Carol in small groups about our initial ideas, research and thoughts before meeting with her again in the afternoon to discuss our sketches and developments.

My idea was to convey the message of the author trying to “open up the UK’s eyes” to world of problems such as racism, gender, voice and veganism. I thought that I needed to do this literally enough so that a child would understand, but not so literal that it would be cliché. Below are my initial sketches:

My idea here was to show a turkey opening the eyes of the UK (literally). Although the title Talking Turkeys isn’t actually that relevant to the book (just to one of the poems within it), I thought it would help children make a connection with the word and imagery.

Here I have an illustration of a figure in a suit and tie, which is supposed to convey the UK government. Instead of a face I have drawn a cloud or bubble which includes icons that symbolise the issues raised in the poems within the book.

This is similar to the above idea, but features typography in place of icons or symbols.

This idea is that the UK and Benjamin are playing a game of Jenga. Benjamin is being delicate and understanding but the UK is being careless and rough.


Carol was happy with my ideas and thought they were good but she suggested that I try to stay away from UK flags to symbolise the UK as this was too literal. She also told me to look into some other children’s books with cultural issues such as the ones mentioned in the poems. She also suggested I research into typography, possibly rastafarian type designers or type with rastafarian origins. In addition, she suggested I decide on a pull out quotation from the poem that speaks to me the strongest and use it within the cover design itself.

I think that the jenga idea is the one I will take forward and develop further to be less literal and more metaphorical.

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