News + Events

Farewell to ABDA Manager Claire Smiddy

On behalf of the ABDA community, I extend a heartfelt thank you to the incredible Claire Smiddy who served as the inaugural ABDA Manager for the past two years. Claire is moving on to a full-time position as Marketing, Communications and Events Officer at the Melbourne Social Equity Institute at the University of Melbourne. During her time with ABDA, Claire organised the submissions, judging and celebrations for the 63rd and 64th annual Book Design Awards with graceful efficiency. Claire was instrumental in developing ABDA’s content-rich website, as well as coordinating the tours of international ABDA guests David Pearson and Jon Gray, and introducing administrative order to the Association.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of dealing with Claire will know her to be calm, frighteningly well organised and remarkably attentive to the smallest details – during Jon Gray’s stay in Sydney, Claire arranged for a Father’s Day card to be delivered to his hotel from the ABDA ‘family’. There will forever be a gin-cocktail with your name on it at our end of year drinks, Claire.

Although Claire will be sorely missed, the ABDA Committee is excited to welcome Jen Toogood as the new Manager. Jen comes to us with a strong background in marketing, business management and book publishing, most notably as a Director and Marketing Consultant for award-winning design consultancy Design By Committee.


Zoë Sadokierski

Australian Book Designers Association


Annual General Meeting 2016

The Annual General Meeting of the Australian Book Designers Association Inc. will be held at 6.30pm on Tuesday 30 August 2016

Melbourne Location
Activity Room 1, Kathleen Syme Library & Community Centre,
251 Faraday Street, Carlton

Sydney Location
Room 735, Level 7, UTS Building 6
702 Harris Street, Ultimo

Copies of the meeting agenda, committee nomination forms and proxy forms have been circulated to members.

If you are a current ABDA member and did not receive this information, or if you have any questions about the AGM, please email

Jon Gray in Australia

We are delighted to announce that celebrated London-based designer Jon Gray, AKA Gray318, will be visiting Sydney and Melbourne this September.

ABDA will be presenting two exclusive masterclasses with Jon, as well as partnering with The Wheeler Centre for one public lecture.

Tickets for all events are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Sydney Masterclass

Date: Saturday 3 September, 2pm – 5.30pm
Venue: University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo
Tickets: $85 for ABDA individual members*, $110 for non-members
This is a small group workshop aimed primarily at professional designers.
A maximum of 20 tickets will be available.
Booked out – join the waitlist

Melbourne Public Lecture
Take Cover: Jon Gray on Book Design

Date: Monday 12 September, 7.30pm
Venue: Deakin Edge, Federation Square
Tickets: $12 for ABDA individual members* & concession, $20 full price
Book now via

Melbourne Masterclass
Date: Wednesday 14 September, 2pm – 5.30pm
Venue: Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre, Carlton
Tickets: $85 for ABDA individual members*, $110 for non-members
This is a small group workshop aimed primarily at professional designers.
A maximum of 20 tickets will be available.
Booked out – join the waitlist

* ABDA individual membership costs just $50 for one year. Members receive discounted event tickets, discounted awards entry fees, a profile on the ABDA website and member savings from partner organisations – join now.


About Jon Gray
Jon Gray is one of the most celebrated book designers in the world. He has designed and illustrated book covers for publishers around the globe. His work famously adorns books by Jonathan Safran Foer (recall the red hand of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close), Zadie Smith, David Foster Wallace, A.M Homes and Roald Dahl. Other clients include Nike, Hewlett-Packard, The New York Times and the Berlin Opera.

Gray Collage

Melbourne Drinks Night and Film Screening

Join ABDA for drinks and a free screening of the 2009 documentary Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak.  

Directed by Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze, this 2009 documentary is a loving look at one of the most cherished, talented, and controversial figures in children’s literature.

This is a free event for ABDA members and friends. Seats are very limited and bookings are essential.

If you have any questions please email


  • Wednesday 27 July 2016
  • Drinks from 7pm; film screening starts at 8pm
  • Longplay Cinema & Bar
    318 St Georges Road
    Fitzroy North, Melbourne
    (Tram No. 11, Stop 24)

Award Winners Announced

Thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate the 64th Australian Book Design Awards.  If you haven’t yet caught up with the winners, the full list can be found here and photos from the night are on our Facebook page.

A special congratulations to Tony Palmer who was inducted into the Australian Book Design Hall of Fame. An extended interview with Tony will be published on the site soon.

The beautiful hardback catalogue for the 2016 awards is now available for purchase. Thank you to designer Alissa Dinallo, printer OPUS Group and paper suppliers Spicers making this year’s catalogue possible.

A national touring exhibition of 2016’s shortlisted and winning books, hosted by Australian Academic Design Libraries, begins in June at the University of Tasmania’s Morris Miller Library in Hobart. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates.

Thank you to all of our members, sponsors and supporters for making the third ABDA-run awards possible.

We look forward to seeing you in 2017.

Image: Alessia Ferraro Photography

The 64th Australian Book Design Awards 2016

Join the Australian Book Designers Association to celebrate the most original and beautiful book designs of the year.

This year the party returns to Melbourne, with spot-on food and drink, our famous show bag and ABDA’s well-earned reputation for a sensational night out.

Our venue is Shebeen on Manchester Lane in the city. Doors will open at 7pm and the on stage proceedings will commence at 8pm.

The master of ceremonies for the evening will be comedian, musician and former librarian Josh Earl.

To view the shortlist for the 2016 Awards please click here.



This event is currently fully booked. Please click here here to join the waiting list and you will be contacted if a ticket becomes available.


Date: Friday 13 May

Time: Doors open at 7pm
On stage proceedings start at 8pm

Location: Shebeen, 36 Manchester Lane, Melbourne


Ticket Prices

ABDA Members  $75
Non Members  $90


ABDA individual membership costs $50 for one year. Click here to find out more.

Alistair Hall: Working for Monsters

These events are presented by the Australian Graphic Designers Association with partnership support from ABDA. 

Alistair Hall is the award-winning designer of the London studio: We Made This. Alistair beautifully combines a mastery of words with finely crafted design—and has an impressive list of clients including Penguin Books, Historic Royal Palaces, the UK’s National Trust and John Lewis Partnership.

As well as designing, Alistair is co-founder and art director of the children’s literacy charity Ministry of Stories, and its fantastical shop, Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. He also teaches at the highly regarded London design school Central Saint Martins.

Alistair will be presenting ‘Working For Monsters’ — a little talk about life at We Made This, and a look at the award-winning work for Hoxton Street Monster Supplies.

Event Details & Bookings


ABDA & AGDA Members  $35

Public  $65

Students  $25



Date: Thursday 14 April

Time: Doors open at 6pm, 6.30pm start

Location: Upstairs at the Provincial Hotel

299 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy



Date: Thursday 21 April

Time: Doors open at 6pm, 6.30pm start

Location: Pirie & Co Social Club

121 Pirie St, Adelaide

Expressions of Interest: Live Book Making Project


Head On Photo Festival, Sydney, 6 – 8 May 2016

Blurb Books, in partnership with the Australian Book Designers Association, is running a live book making project as part of the 2016 Head On Photo Festival in Sydney.

Four photographers will be paired with four designers, each pair will create a photobook live at a workstation set up in the Blurb Lounge (at Sydney Lower Town Hall). Festival audiences will be able to stop by to watch designers in action.

Photographers and designers will have the opportunity to meet and workshop ideas before the Festival (in person or online), but the main design work will take place on location between Friday 6 May and Sunday 8 May.

Books can be designed to any format, paper stock or finishes available on the Blurb platform. Following the Festival, Blurb will publish the final photobooks, via their international print-on-demand platform.

ABDA is currently taking expressions of interest from designers who would like to participate. Please send an email with a link to your portfolio or a PDF of selected design work to by 5pm on Thursday 31 March. First preference will be given to ABDA members.


Further Details

Designer participants will receive:

–  a one-off fee of $500 for participating in the event

– 3 copies of the final printed book

– promotion of their work via Blurb and ABDA social media and websites

Participants are expected to be on site at the Blurb Lounge (located at the Lower Town Hall, in Sydney) between 10am and 5pm on Saturday and/or Sunday, and part of Friday. However, time commitments are negotiable. You will need to bring your own laptop.

This is a public ‘performance’ so you must be willing to speak to Festival audiences who may have questions about your design process. Blurb representatives will potentially interview you about your design process, which may involve photographing or videoing you and your work for promotional posts on the Blurb and ABDA websites.

You must supply a print-ready PDF to Blurb by the end of the project.


Melbourne Drinks Night and Film Screening

Join ABDA for drinks and a free screening of the 2008 documentary
Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight.

Noted for co-founding New York Magazine and creating the “I Love NY” campaign, Milton Glaser’s artistic output is revealed in this fascinating film.

This is a free event for ABDA members and friends. Seats are very limited and bookings are essential.

If you have any questions please email


  • Wednesday 24 February 2016
  • Drinks from 7pm; film screening starts at 8pm
  • Longplay Cinema & Bar
    318 St Georges Road
    Fitzroy North, Melbourne
    (Tram No. 11, Stop 24)

The Australian Book Design Hall of Fame:
Call for Nominations

ABDA is inviting nominations for the Australian Book Design Hall of Fame.

Since the Hall of Fame was first established in 1994, the Award has been presented to designers whose body of work and role in the book industry has made a significant contribution to book design in Australia.

The current members of the Hall of Fame are W.H. Chong, Sandy Cull, Deborah Brash, George Dale, Harry Williamson, Arthur Stokes, Alec Bolton and Patrick Coyle.



To nominate a designer for the Hall of Fame please provide:

  • the name and contact information of the person you wish to nominate.
  • a 500-word statement about the nominee’s contribution to the industry. This may include their support of others in the industry; their contribution to training/mentoring; involvement in industry events promoting design; design education; and any other outstanding contributions and qualities.
  • three letters of support for the nomination from colleagues and/or people in the industry, each to be no more than 300 words.

All information should be emailed to by no later than 5pm on
Monday 15 February 2016.


A special advisory panel will be convened to assist the ABDA Committee in the selection process.

If you have any questions about the Hall of Fame or the nomination process, please contact Claire via