It’s not easy to identify a Paul Buckley cover. His style runs the gamut resulting in covers designed (or directed) to boldly stand out, or tastefully fit in. And seeing as though he’s the Vice President / Executive Creative Director of Penguin U.S., it’s clear he knows what he’s doing.
His approach to design reminds me of DJing in that he relies heavily on other people’s images while occasionally adding in his own illustrations to create the perfect mix. As creative director, Buckley and his team earn big points with me in choosing outside talent like Tomer Hanuka and Chris Ware — who basically took over the entire design of Candide, apparently.
In a 2009 interview, Buckley mentions that he sometimes comes up with up to twenty comps for each book he designs. This seemed excessive to me at first, but it started to make sense when I thought about how high-end Penguin releases are and how many people have high stakes riding on the book’s success. Buckley and his team know what they’re doing, however, and his work has always passed the test for me when I judge a book by its cover.