We're dead excited to have our cover for Writings from the Zen Masters back from the printers, seeing as it's the first book we've done where we've managed to remove both the title and the author name from the front cover.
The design features an enso, or circle, painted with a Japanese bamboo brush. We tried using sumi ink initially, which comes in a solid stick, and which you grind with water on an ink stone, but we couldn't quite get the right density of black, so instead used a more standard black ink.
The enso relates to Zen notions of enlightenment, strength, and elegance; the painter should ideally create the circle in a single fluid movement, the shape then revealing the spirit of the artist.
The focus of Zen Buddhism is the achievement of enlightenment through meditation, rather than a scholarly focus on long texts, it felt right to strip the cover back to the most elegant and simple of forms, particularly one so closely associated with Zen.
We then also created a stylised hanko, or seal, crafted to represent a simplified version of the Penguin logo.
The book is part of the fourth series of Penguin's Great Ideas books, the majority of which are designed by our studio buddy David Pearson, with additional covers by Phil Baines, Catherine Dixon, and us. Check out Dave's site for the full covers from the first three series, and you can currently see half of the latest series on the rather brilliant Book Cover Archive. Dave's still in the process of scanning the rest in - we'll give you a nod once they're up - check them out on his Great Ideas IV Flickr set.