Carin Goldberg on Ulysses

“The controversial cover I designed for Ulysses was the one that Tibor [Kalman] targeted. The very specific brief that I received from the editor and Judy Loeser, the art director of Vintage Books in the 1980s, was to design the cover in the tradition of the previous Ulysses cover, designed by McKnight Kauffer in 1949. The trajectory of the Ulysses covers is well documented in the book By Its Cover by Ned Drew and Paul Sternberger. I was specifically asked to play with a big capital U and to maintain the typographic direction of the previously published Ulysses covers. There wasn’t much of a hook or a concept to work with. The content of the book was specifically irrelevant [to] the brief. Therefore, style was the only way to approach the thing. I designed several variations and, again, my references came from modernist typographic posters. I rationalized that Joyce was a modernist. That was my hook.

Paul Renner (1928)

Was it a total rip off of an original poster? No. It was homage to the poster and to the period. In the same way that Vintage Books was paying homage to Joyce and republishing the classic Ulysses, I was paying homage to classic works of design. At the time there was hissing and booing from my detractors. Still is. I say, tough. Leave me alone already. In the meantime, that cover is considered a classic, for better or for worse. I moved on the day after I handed in the comp. Next!”

— Carin Goldberg (RIP)