Work in Publishing Week: Design

Posted 18.11.19 by prhcareers

Curious about publishing, but want to find out what it’s really like? Who better to share with you what a career is like at Penguin Random House than the people doing these jobs?

During Work in Publishing Week, our colleagues from Marketing, Design, Technology, Production, Publicity, Editorial, Sales and Distribution will share their insights. We’ll also be giving tips from our Resourcing team about how to make your application stand out.

Yesterday we spoke to Tom about Marketing, and today we’re talking to Amy Musgrave about Design. Amy is a Junior Designer at Cornerstone:


Hi Amy, could you tell us one thing that would surprise people about your job?

I think the thing most people would be surprised to learn about being a book designer is that you don’t have to be an artist, or even able to draw, to be able to work in the role. A lot of designers can’t draw and on a day to day basis we don’t really need to. With a lot of our more artistic approaches, we will commission illustrators who work in the specific style we have in mind to create the artwork for us. When the artwork is complete, we will partner it with all the text we need to create the final cover. That’s not to say that artists or illustrators don’t work as book designers – I did illustration at university and then moved over to book design later. If the brief calls for it, we can draw little pieces ourselves if we’re able to, and some designers are also great with typography and can create the lettering for the titles themselves. But for the most part, if a cover we’re designing requires a specific illustration or something to be done in a specific style, we will turn to an artist to create our vision for the cover for us.

What skills do you need to work in Design?

In design, we work with Adobe Photoshop and InDesign on a daily basis so we really need to know our way around the Adobe Creative Suite. You don’t need to be an expert when you first start out though, and you quickly see that every designer works in these programmes in a completely different way. I’m constantly learning little hints and tips from other designers because there’s no ‘one right way’ to design and create covers.

What’s really important to work in this role is that you have a flair for design, and have an ‘eye’ for what works visually and what doesn’t. Basic skills for creating covers (like Photoshop) can be taught, but having the ability to know what looks good and what doesn’t is what’s really important in this role. You also really need to have patience and a lot of determination – some covers can be trickier than others to get right and can go into our cover meetings week after week with a different selection of visuals each time. But it’s all worth it in the end when that one cover is finally approved.


Top tips for applying for a job in Design from our Resourcing team:

Use your CV to tell us about any projects or skills that are relevant to the role, and focus your style and creativity into your portfolio where we’ll be looking for a demonstration of a broad design skillset. In your work examples, you can use personal projects, academic projects; or perhaps you’ve created posters for a local event.

In your portfolio, we’d like to see you integrate a variety of different skills into one design. This could be photography, illustration, graphic design and typography. Some experience with photo editing software is also essential. If you’d like to brush up on your skills, Adobe have lots of free tutorials for beginners and experienced users on Photoshop and InDesign which are tools Amy mentions above.


Interested in paid work experience?

Our application window is currently open, and you can apply here. Places are chosen by random selection, and applications close at noon on 20th November. You can learn more about work experience at Penguin Random House here.

Hear more about what the day to day involves from Junior Designer, Marianne Issa El-Khoury: