Old idioms be damned—books are absolutely, positively judged by their covers. Getting them right is a true art; nailing the subject matter in a single, striking visual can enhance a reader’s understanding of the tome, offering a unique visual perspective on the printed words that will follow. Especially now in our tablet-loving world, having the physical artifact itself be pleasing to the eye (and brain) is a big-time boon. Heck, call me superficial, but I’ll cop to falling in love at first sight with stories based solely on the beauty of their exterior.
Penguin has been a purveyor of fine literature since 1935, and recently reissued five of English author George Orwell’s classics with new covers by London-based designer David Pearson, a true maestro of the medium (and no stranger to Orwell’s oeuvre, having previously produced the cover for Why I Write, part of the Great Ideas series).
Through the quintet of wildly different designs, Pearson manages to capture the spirit of the individual novel, from the scrawl across Animal Farm that looks like it could be part of the opening credits from a midcentury political thriller film, to the intrigue of shadowed type and Picasso-esque line-drawings of Homage to Catalonia, Orwell’s account of the Spanish Civil War.
Most notable, however, is Pearson’s clever work for that dystopian tale from Oceania, 1984. Set against the publisher’s iconic orange-and-white frame and instantly recognizable logo, the title and author name are obscured by a pair of thick black bars, as if even those five words alone were too incendiary to print without censorship. Upon closer look, it’s clear that the text is still there—albeit barely—debossed beneath the matte black foil.
Pearson told Creative Review that the process to see the concept through wasn’t without its own trials. "It’s obviously the risk-taker of the series," he said, going on to note the multiple iterations it went through in order to perfect the obfuscation. It’s a brave effort worthy of both the fearless fiction and your own shelf at home, where, yeah, it would look awesome as part of your collection.
(H/t Creative Review)