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There we were, fresh faced and chasing clients, when one of the biggest names knocked on our door – Penguin.

Gobsmacked to be working for them back in 2010, we did all we could to ace the first brief.

Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams is a journey through his childhood love of the elements. When he was a boy, Hugh had a periodic table on his wall and would nail up as many elements as he could find (apart from the lethal ones, obviously). This infatuation with science comes through in the book, and was the perfect vehicle for the cover.

We learnt, among other crazy facts, that you could distill Phosphorus from a bucket of wee, Zinc is used to line coffins and that France have a totally useless element called Francium, just because everyone else has one.

Our initial suggestion was to have a fold-out poster periodic table which would cleverly make up the book jacket, but it proved too costly, so we just had fun illustrating the lot.

Here you can also see a full periodic table we illustrated for a private client who loved the book, the full jacket, and Hugh’s next book – Anatomies.

Client: Penguin Viking
Commissioned by John Hamilton, Art Director
Photographs: various