“I have a friend who designs a book cover who says you should only stay in a job for six years and then you should leave. He really insists it’s six years,” says designer Tom Etherington, who has just left publishing house Penguin Press after – you guessed it – six years, though he insists the timing is a coincidence rather than a fulfillment of his friend’s logic.
Etherington readily admits that the design role at Penguin Press had been his dream role. “I looked at Penguin’s website every two weeks to see if a job had come up,” he recalls. Finally, Penguin was looking for someone with experience in illustration – the publisher began to embrace several illustrated titles – and magazines to cover the work with Happy Reader, the title Penguin Random House publishes in collaboration with Fantastic Man. Joined from Rankin Photography, where he worked on photo books and its fashion magazine, Hunger, Etherington fit the bill.
For the next six years, he worked on a mix of projects across Penguin Press, home of prints, including Penguin Classics and Allen Lane: “I worked on book covers and then also illustrated titles, designed the entire book and then every six months, would I work at Happy Reader magazine. So it felt like a really nice balance between different projects, which I think is pretty rare in publishing. I think a lot of book cover designers are just book cover designers. “
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