This month, fifty years after its first printing, legendary designer Saul Bass’s one and only children’s book is being reprinted by Rizzoli. The book is gorgeous, just what you’d expect from one of the greatest graphic designers of all time, and it got us to thinking about other children’s books illustrated by famous designers who are more noted for their other work. After all, it seems to us that if you have that kind of skill with pictures and words, you might as well put it to use shaping the minds of the younger generations, right? Click through to check out our roundup of children’s books illustrated (and sometimes written!) by great designers, and let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorites in the comments!
Legendary designer Saul Bass, best known for his graphic movie posters and title sequences, only illustrated one children’s book — and luckily for all of us, it’s back in print. Henri’s Walk to Paris , is a beautifully minimalist, boldly colored tale of a boy who dreams of going to Paris, written by Leonore Klein. See more pictures here.
One of the most famous American graphic designers, Milton Glaser, the founder of New York Magazine, and the creator of the world-famous “I Heart NY” logo (not to mention this awesome Bob Dylan poster), also illustrated a few highly whimsical children’s books written by his wife, Shirley Glaser, including The Alphazeds, The Big Race , and If Apples Had Teeth .
Prolific graphic designer and illustrator Christoph Niemann — who has designed many covers for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and Atlantic Monthly, not to mention a million projects in other places — also has a number of kids’ books under his belt — the latest, That’s How! , an adorable speculation into the way things really work.
One of the most influential graphic designers of all time, Paul Rand is the man behind some of the most recognizable corporate logos around IBM, UPS, Enron, Westinghouse, and ABC, just to name a few. He also found the time to illustrate four children’s books, all written by his wife, Ann Rand. Our favorites are Sparkle and Spin: A Book About Words and Little 1 , a story of a little number looking for a friend. Rand brings the simplicity and forward-thinking of his excellent logo design to his illustrations, but manages to make them pretty lovely, too.
Edward Sorel isn’t someone you’d necessarily expect to do a soft-and-fuzzy book for children — the famous graphic designer and political cartoonist was called “one of America’s foremost political satirists” by The New York Times , and his art is notorious for its criticism of right-wing politics. However, he has written and illustrated three children’s books, including The Zillionaire’s Daughter , a tongue-in-cheek story of the French daughter of (you guessed it) a zillionaire as they cross the Atlantic in the S.S. “Gigantic.”
Frank Viva is well known for his illustrations for places like The New Yorker and The New York Times, as well as his packaging, logo and environmental design. His very first children’s book, Along a Long Road , made The New York Times’ list of the best illustrated books of 2011. Not too shabby.
British designer Tom Eckersley was one of the most important and prolific poster designers in the UK in the last century. Though his poster design focuses on bold overlaid colors and strong graphic forms, his illustration work seems to be a little more subdued. See more pictures from the book here.
Famed Italian designer, sculpture artist, filmmaker, and painter Bruno Munari seemingly had a hand in almost every medium — including children’s books, which he originally began designing for his son, Alberto. All of them, including The Elephant’s Wish and Bruno Munari’s ABC , are weird, whimsical, and didactic — much like the man himself.
“It would be difficult to imagine contemporary American and European graphic design and illustration without the presence of Seymour Chwast,” wrote Steven Heller. One of the founders (and current principals) at the iconic Push Pin Studios, Chwast is a highly influential graphic designer and illustrator, whose distinctive style changed the game. In his tenure, he illustrated several rather bizarre children’s books, including Moon Ride and Mr. Merlin and the Turtle .