Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
I imagine that will be the defence of this apparent example of flattery presented as a 'tribute' to the work of the late Ray Hawkey, who created one of the most iconic front covers of the 20th Century with his work on the first edition of The Ipcress File.
They would one imagines have known what they were doing and this appears like a - admittedly, quite clever - bid for press coverage by this Scottish publisher, working to the maxim 'all publicity is good publicity'. After all, I'm writing about it; designers are up in arms; it's in the news.
"It took many years of determined study, practical application and a large helping of God-given creative genius for Hawkey to arrive at his design. It continues to be recognised as a key milestone in Hawkey's significant influence on the visual culture of Britain in the second half of the 20th century."Berlinn claims that it is an homage to Ray Hawkey's original jacket for The Ipcress File, that their design is a public show of respect. Yet they don't credit Hawkey's original work and did not seek the prior approval of his widow.
The Observer report's Berlinn's publishing director Neville Moir as saying he "regretted" that there had been no printed acknowledgement of the original jacket and Hawkey. With hindsight, he said, he would have given one. He added: "We weren't trying to pass off anything." The fuss he describes in the article as "unfortunate" - although, of course, it's likely to drive up sales no end, which will be "fortunate" for Berlin and Fantoni.
Is plausible deniability a defence?
The two covers are published on this blog post. You take a look and decide: loving tribute, or rip-off. Readers are encouraged to get in touch with the publishers Birlinn to voice their disapproval, if they so wish.
See this post by Mike Dempsey to get the design world's perspective on the story.