2011 NVA Winner: Jim Tierney
By the Print staff
For a graphic designer, Jim Tierney’s life centers quite a bit around literature. “My love of books and my interest in design have developed side by side, and have intertwined into a big, strange, amorphous life-devouring obsession,” Tierney confesses. “I’ll read something that sticks with me, and then use it later in an illustration. I spend my free time in bookstores or flea markets browsing through printed ephemera.” So it only makes sense that Tierney’s first and current full-time job is at Penguin Books as a book designer.
The transition from school to the workforce was a natural one, with Tierney having worked on book design as part of his senior thesis, a series of fully illustrated Jules Verne novels. His love for adding color to the written word continued with a freelance assignment for the January 2011 of Poets & Writers magazine. He designed the cover and the interior illustrations, and considers this one of his favorite published projects. “They basically gave a few spreads and said ‘Let’s see what you come up with.” I ended up hand-lettering all of the titles and drop-caps, and illustrating all around the margins of each page.”
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, with a half-jacket.
Tierney says he hopes to work directly with an author some day, but in the meantime, he’s enjoying the collaborative culture that governs his work at Penguin. He describes himself and his colleagues as “one complex organism,” and confesses that none of his work there has been entirely his own. But Tierney believes this is for the best, mostly because he thinks designers require a lot of emotional support; it’s why he’s grateful that his fiancée is also a designer. “It’s so valuable to have someone creative around to encourage me when I’m in a slump, and kick my butt when I get lazy or careless with my work.”
They basically gave a few spreads and said ‘Let’s see what you come up with.’ I ended up hand-lettering all of the titles and drop-caps, and illustrating all around the margins of each page.
Click here to learn more about Jim and to see more if his work.