This month Ultimate Library is in conversation with Jesse Brown, creative director of Bevan Howard – an illustration and graphic design studio in Clerkenwell, London. The studio works primarily with hotels, restaurants and high-end retail brands, in the UK and around the world. Jesse spends most of his time meeting clients in bars and hotel lobbies, sketching and painting as he goes.

Ultimate Library asked Bevan Howard to redesign some book jackets… and the results are spectacular. Read on to discover the inspiration behind Bevan Howard and see the beautiful designs that they have come up with.



What is the inspiration behind Bevan Howard?

I wanted Bevan Howard to become known for creating distinctive, quirky, but well thought out design. But my first love is illustration, and I am lucky enough to be able to indulge that passion in much of the design work we do for our clients.

We love the playful designs you have created! How do you know where to start when you are given a project to work on?

Each project usually begins with a client consultation, whether the requirement is a new brand identity or simply a new menu design. We then create mood boards for several concepts, and narrow down the ideas from there. We generally try to inject some humour and fun into each design. For me, it’s very important to make people smile, so that is often the starting point.


Life Is Meals

Life is Meals: A Food Lover’s Book of Days 

By James & Kay Salter

Book cover reimagined and designed by Bevan Howard

What has been the most memorable project you have worked on?

Although we work with some incredible hospitality and retail clients, like Chewton Glen and The Connaught, we have also developed relationships with a couple of fantastic charities. One particularly rewarding project has been the Summer Reading Challenge, an annual campaign run by the charity the Reading Agency. Each summer the campaign gets over a million children, in the UK and abroad, into libraries and inspires them to read. Each year they commission a celebrated children’s illustrator to create the artwork. Illustrators have included Quentin Blake, Tony Ross and Sarah Macintyre. We work closely with the illustrator to create a brand identity and collateral for the campaign.

What was the inspiration behind bespoke book jacket illustrations?

My main passions are drawing, eating and reading. I love history, and books about history are pretty much all I read. Plus I also love the understated, irreverent British sense of humour, one of the few things we can be proud of today. I love quintessential British characters, charming buffoons like Bertie Wooster and Harry Flashman.


Flashman and the Charge

Flashman at the Charge

By George MacDonald Fraser

Book cover reimagined and designed by Bevan Howard


Where do you see the future of design illustration heading?

It’s a bit of a boom time for illustration, both hand drawn and computer based. There is an element of nostalgia, but also a desire to see authenticity and craftsmanship in design. People are looking for a unique expression of ideas – something that sets them apart from the crowd – and illustration can achieve that beautifully. There is a real demand for new ideas and executions, which makes it a very exciting time to be in this creative industry.


jeeves and wooster cover

Jeeves and the Tie That Binds

By P.G. Wodehouse 

Book cover reimagined and designed by Bevan Howard

Is there a particular illustrator whose work you admire and are inspired by?

I am always drawn to great illustrators of the past, such as Aubrey Beardsley, Osbert Lancaster and Mervyn Peake. I am awed by their wit and imagination, their draftsmanship and keen eye for detail.

Do you have any book recommendations that speak to the theme of design, and in particular, illustration?

Anything by Steven Heller, including ‘Paul Rand’. Rand was the father of the creative revolution, and his work is unsurpassed to this day. He used visual imagery, illustration, collage and type to mind blowing effect.

Sunday sketching is the new book by Christoph Niemann, showing his creative process, brilliant imagination and clever sense of humour.

Paul Rand: A Designer’s Art

By Paul Rand 

World leading graphic designer, Paul Rand, describes his artistic corpus with sensational and inspirational detail.

Sunday Sketching 

By Christoph Niemann

Celebrated artist, Christoph Niemann, displays some of his most whimsical and iconic designs that act as intuitive and brilliant social commentary. A true master.

The Graphic Design Idea Book

By Steven Heller and Gail Anderson


This book will help you navigate the (sometimes confusing) waters of graphic design. Perfect for anyone wanting to get a foot in the wonderful and varied world of illustration.