Q&A with Emerging Designer nominee George Saad

The Penguin Random House Australia Deb Brash Emerging Designer of the Year Award at this years ABDA Awards features two incredibly talented shortlisted entrants. ABDA spoke with the finalists – George Saad and Mika Tabata – on their journey into book design, favourite projects and their go-to fonts! Now, we hear from George Saad.

When did you start working on books? Or what inspired you to want to work in the book industry?

I started working at HarperCollins 2018. I began as a humble marketing designer but then wormed my way into some book briefs in my second year. My first cover was by accident. It was for Tess Woods Love & Other Battles. I had designed a reading copy that the team seemed to like, which ended up being the final cover. I never really considered book design as a career for me, it always seemed so unobtainable and a little mystical. I’m an avid reader, an obsessor of paper and all things print, so the book world lured me in. I do have to shout out Zoe Sadokierski who was a big influence and inspiration to me. She put me forward for my first publishing gig and I am so grateful to her!

What’s been your favourite project that you’ve worked on so far?

Anytime I get to design loud and with loads of colours, I get very excited. Rick Morton’s My Year of Living Vulnerably was such a treat to read, so I loved working on that cover. It also combines my two favourite print finishes of all time… fluoro and holographic. The Pronoun Lowdown by Nevo Zisin was also a great experience. Not only are the pages vibrant and full of life, it articulates some important issues really clearly and I love that I can contribute to the LGBTQI+ community in some small way.


What font do you keep coming back to?

Baskerville all day, everyday! That italic ampersand is iconic! That’s all I’ll say.

Image © FontsEmpire.com

A design trend that you’re enjoying at the moment?

I go back and forth on this, but today I’m really into gradients, especially if the colours are violently clashing or not traditionally combined. Hard to get right, but when it’s right, it’s SO right!


Red Pill designed by John Gall
A Crooked Tree designed by Caroline Teagle Johnson
No One Is Talking About This designed by Lauren Peters-Collaer

Any designers or designs that have resonated with you recently?

I really need to shout out my ex-HarperCollins family – Hazel Lam, Amy Daoud, Darren Holt, Mark Campbell, Shirley Tranthai, Michelle Zaiter & Christine Armstrong. As someone new to the book industry and not really knowing what I was doing, they welcomed me, were very patient, let me be a stickybeak on all their projects and took a barrage of questions. I truly haven’t felt more inspired, and continue to be inspired by these extraordinary designers. Working with them has been such a treat.

A book that I have been obsessing over lately is Cook This Book by Molly Baz. Cooking is my second love, so I am drawn to beautifully designed cookbooks, and boy is this book stunning! Designed by the formidable French duo Violaine et Jeremy. As well as being ridiculously talented designers, I think they are running one of the most creative and innovative type foundries. I do try to sneak one of their fonts in every project I work on. Sorry publishers!

And Beyonce… always.

Special shout out to Favourite ABDA winning book of previous years?

I do fangirl over anything Alison Colpoys does. All the Ways to be Smart, Girl in Pieces, Florentine are all stunning but I particularly love The Museum of Words. It combines expressive typography, is super refrained but still so eye catching. The only thing that would’ve made this cover better is Baskerville, but I’ll let it go.


We wish George the best of luck in the upcoming awards!

The 2021 winner of the Emerging Designer award will be announced at the 69th ABDA Awards on 24 June 2021.