Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Off to Grandmother's House We Go
July 30, 2011 7:10 PM   Subscribe

"Hyper-minimalist poster designs of the classic children’s stories we’ve grown to know and love."

Designed by Christian Jackson, the man behind the Square Inch Design blog.
posted by deborah (66 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nice overall, but I'm not convinced that a fleshy short-haired upside-down heart is the best design choice.
posted by dosterm at 7:15 PM on July 30, 2011 [16 favorites]


Hmm. I don't think THAT's what the cowardly lion was searching for...at least, not in the kid's version.
posted by subversiveasset at 7:18 PM on July 30, 2011 [25 favorites]


Meanwhile on Boargamegeek...
posted by Winnemac at 7:19 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ha. Yeah. Wizard of Oz one. Otherwise not bad. Not super interesting, but not bad. ;D
posted by Glinn at 7:22 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought that about the Oz one.
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:28 PM on July 30, 2011


Actually, Wizard of Oz is one of the best. Really young kids wouldn't understand it, but when they hit 12? Their minds will be blown. And there will be laughter.
posted by jsturgill at 7:28 PM on July 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hansel y Gretel is the cutest one.
posted by jfwlucy at 7:30 PM on July 30, 2011


These are cool and all, but what I'd love to see is one of these designer types actually sell the books. For anything out of copyright anyway. Anyone can do the designs, but no one ever follows through...
posted by caution live frogs at 7:30 PM on July 30, 2011


Very beautifully done, in a neo-1960s aesthetic. Now try Siddharta.
posted by happyroach at 7:30 PM on July 30, 2011


And Rumpelstiltskin feels like a copout.
posted by jsturgill at 7:31 PM on July 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ooo. I love this! Now just let me have one for The Little Prince.
posted by IvoShandor at 7:39 PM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Minimalist posters / book covers of ______ always seems like a predictable way to get the internet excited.
posted by naju at 7:55 PM on July 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


This is really brilliant stuff. I got chills looking at it. Favorited!
posted by Meatafoecure at 7:57 PM on July 30, 2011


Very nice...thanks.
posted by tomswift at 8:03 PM on July 30, 2011


I like the way these are laid out, so that you can scroll down and try to guess the title before you actually see it.
posted by HeroZero at 8:04 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


happyroach, Here's a Siddharta tattoo; not a great pic, but a clever, rather minimalist, idea, I think.

Is Alice in Wonderland a hole (in the ground)? I don't think I ever would have figured that one out on imagery alone. It looks like a crescent moon or eclipse to me.

The Rip Van Winkle one could do double duty as Sleeping Beauty.
posted by taz at 8:05 PM on July 30, 2011


Is Alice in Wonderland a hole (in the ground)?

Cheshire Cat.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 8:07 PM on July 30, 2011


ah. PWNED by the minimalism!
posted by taz at 8:12 PM on July 30, 2011


I've been poking around Christian Jackson's other blogs. Neat stuff! Thanks for posting.
posted by sweetkid at 8:21 PM on July 30, 2011


Annnnnnnnnnd we're back.
Another month, another one of these.

Minimalism is a dialogue predicated on the promise that you be clever and say alot with very little. Its an elegant design solution that speaks volumes elegantly with a minimum of vocabulary.
It is not (for the 9 millionth god damn time) you saying "hey remember how this thing was in that book/film?" and couching it in a really bland composition like every single other "minimalist" fan poster art blog on the internet.

It's a cliche at this point to even have to mention how lazy this all is.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:38 PM on July 30, 2011 [36 favorites]


I was very surprised when I searched and found it hadn't been posted before. I'm glad y'all most of you liked it.
posted by deborah at 8:55 PM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


At first I wanted to be a smart ass and so I tried to post a 'space' . Methought I was soooo clever with my minimalist comment. But metafilter scolded and made fun of me.

"Your comment appears to be blank, go back and try again. "

I read this with the judging voice of Louise Fletcher in my brain. [shiver]
posted by hot_monster at 9:04 PM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


 
posted by taz at 9:12 PM on July 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


&nbs; is the minimalist commenter's friend.
posted by taz at 9:13 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


These things have been getting on my nerves for quite some time, but I've never been able to put this as succinctly as Senor Cardgage just did.

Working with famous motifs, using simple shapes is a fairly easy and accessible idea, and it's been done oh so many times recently.

Therefore, if you want to jump on this bandwagon, you'd better be doing things better than those that have come before you. This guy is not.

Like with many other forms of accessible popular derivative art, such as mash-ups, there are a lot of people that like this kind of thing. That does not mean that every time someone does something new in said genre it's FPP worthy.
posted by svenni at 9:29 PM on July 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I like the Rapunzel one quite a lot, and the Princess and the Pea one at least visualizes something interesting that the story only describes. Otherwise, yeah what Senor Cardgage said.
posted by hermitosis at 9:30 PM on July 30, 2011


Enchanting, until the darkened "ugly duckling."
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:58 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


These suck. They're boring, monotonously similar, and if you didn't already know the stories, you'd be looking at them and just thinking "huh?".

Like Senor Cardgage talks about, I'd be a lot more impressed with a 'minimalist' movie (or book) poster that made me want to see (or read) something I don't already know. If next summer's blockbusters are advertised this way, are you going to want to see them more? No, you'll just be confused.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:10 PM on July 30, 2011 [9 favorites]



posted by wallstreet1929 at 10:11 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Enchanting, until the darkened "ugly duckling."

It's okay with me if the beautiful, if misunderstood, protagonist of the story is depicted as a black swan rather than the traditional white one. Could you explain a little what your objection is?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:14 PM on July 30, 2011


That fleshy short-haired upside-down heart in the Wizard of Oz poster? Balls as in testicles. "Big… hairy… balls."

I sent Mr. Jackson an email letting him know I posted a link to his art at Mefi. He graciously sent me an email and a link to an interview linked above.

Iris Gambol: check out Mr. Jackson's about page.
posted by deborah at 10:19 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


These were better than I was expecting. I like the Princess and the Pea and Red Riding Hood.

I’m don’t think much of people yelling "sucks" on the internet about stuff like this. He’s not selling anything. He’s not making you look. It’s a guy that put some stuff on his site. In my world you can say anything rude you want about things for sale. For people exhibiting their work I _try_ not to say mean things. I find it weird that people get very sensitive about criticisms of artists that sell albums but tell someone that shows their work for free it sucks.
posted by bongo_x at 10:21 PM on July 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


His Little Red Riding Hood has a lot of detail, all things considered. Molly Bang's Picture This uses Little Red Riding Hood as an example in a discussion of graphic components, and her illustrations keep a lot of story's emotion intact.
posted by redsparkler at 10:23 PM on July 30, 2011


Pater Aletheias, I do recognize that the story has a happy ending, and am glad for it; the depiction just made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up (darker, head turned down, at the back of the line). A more reasoned/less visceral comment would have been, "Enchanting, until the darkened 'ugly duckling,' then thought-provoking."
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:37 PM on July 30, 2011


Don't know how to break it to you bongo_x...
posted by meech at 10:37 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whether he is selling them or not is irrelevant.
This sort of project is a rampant, tired, cliched epidemic online and its simply very, very poor design.
Some of us are designers and some of us further are poster designers who work very hard at our craft. If anything, that gives us more latitude to chime in on this trend and specifically these pieces.
Metafilter (as has been said many times before) isnt anyone's personal blog and you dont get an exemption from critiques you dont like just because you feel that makes people "haterz" or whatever.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:58 PM on July 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


As a designer, you should be made aware that you don't have to hit the enter key after every sentence.
posted by Justinian at 11:08 PM on July 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


Some of us are designers and some of us further are poster designers who work very hard at our craft. If anything, that gives us more latitude to chime in on this trend and specifically these pieces.

Hmmm. Let's apply that argument to something else, shall we?

"Some of us are designers lawyers and some of us further are poster designerslegislators who work very hard at our craft. If anything, that gives us more latitude to chime in on this trend and specifically these pieces law."

No, looks likes that argument doesn't work. It's nice that you have specialist knowledge. But that doesn't mean that everyone else's opinion is worthless.

What *would* be useful is if you would point people in the direction of some minimalist art you think is *good*, instead of ruling from on high that everybody has no taste.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:34 PM on July 30, 2011 [6 favorites]



No one ever said your opinion is invalid. What I said was we all have a right to add critique here, not just the ones with positive things to say.
No one is saying you can't love these posters.
But I'm not going to hold my tongue especially when I come from a position of firsthand knowledge on the topic at hand.
I'm sure you've been saving up that canned argument for a while though so here's hoping it goes well for you.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:39 PM on July 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Looking at the Ugly Duckling, I didn't see it as "darkened" as much as more contrasted than the others. Since, you know, it's the duckling the story is about.
posted by harujion at 11:42 PM on July 30, 2011


I'm sure you've been saving up that canned argument for a while though so here's hoping it goes well for you.

"I'm taking my bat and ball and going home"

I take it that means you are just going to leave it at "this is crap", and not actually help people understand your point?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:48 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Therefore, if you want to jump on this bandwagon, you'd better be doing things better than those that have come before you. This guy is not.

Can you recommend someone who is? Because I do like this kind of thing, and I'm interested in seeing good examples of the style and genre.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:50 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can we stop with the minimalist redesigns now?

While we're at it can we finish with the pop-culture mash-ups too?
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 12:44 AM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


you dont get an exemption from critiques you dont like just because you feel that makes people "haterz" or whatever

Okay, it's like His thoughts were red thoughts says... Metafilter is at its best when knowledgeable people expand the conversation and illuminate the subject by providing insider insights more productive than AARGH. HATE. You started going somewhere with this: Minimalism is a dialogue predicated on the promise that you be clever and say alot with very little. Its an elegant design solution that speaks volumes elegantly with a minimum of vocabulary, but then just sort of sputtered off into this.

You might be surprised at how many of us would be very interested in your thoughts if you were willing to expound a bit and point us toward some examples of what you feel are artists who are doin it rite.

also, alot
posted by taz at 12:46 AM on July 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's a cliche at this point to even have to mention how lazy this all is.

I don't usually swear on Metafilter (OK - I do usually swear on Metafilter), but I am going to now.

Fucking hipsters.

They just ruin everything.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:38 AM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, I enjoy these.

On the other hand, I want them to be a game where I don't see the title and have to guess what the poster is for.

The ones that I think work best without the title are Red Riding Hood, Show White, Princess and the Pea, Alice in Wonderland (though I note at least one person couldn't read what the image was, which gives me PR pause), Ugly Duckling and Goldilocks. The images communicate something iconic about the story. The rest are fun and amusing when you know what story they're related to, but don't necessarily hit on an icon that makes me go "Oh, of course I know what that story is."

Wizard of Oz, in particular, doesn't really communicate that story without the title. Indeed, the story it communicates seems to be "If you want to get love, I have this idea that you first need to have balls." That leads me to think it might be about "Something About Mary."

Anyhow, despite my pedestrian critique here, I really dig these.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:39 AM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not an artsy type. I'm pretty much the opposite: very rational, and have a hard time understanding artistic concepts. That said, I love art and design, and I think it's something that should be treasured.

One thing I'll never understand is one artist saying to another "this is not how you do X", where X in this case is "hyper minimalism". The book covers are neat! Lots of people in this thread responded well to them, and seemed to understand what the artist was aiming at.

Often I see art that I don't like. It's easy for me, as someone with little knowledge of technicalities, to lay the blame on myself. Sometimes I think it would be good for experts to do the same thing; to learn to say "this may not be for me, but I accept that the artist carried out his vision and that is a good thing".
posted by auto-correct at 1:58 AM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was going to make an amusing comment about 'hyper-minimalism' being just a blank white space, but there are so many jetting fountains of piss spraying around in this thread already, I would have felt bad if it had been misinterpreted as more snark and haterade.

I like this recently-everywhere genre of creative internet-stuff quite a lot -- the various Star Wars ones from a while back spring to mind, especially Olly Moss's (and his other film posters in this style).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:51 AM on July 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


"If you want to get love, I have this idea that you first need to have balls."
Great, isn't it? Basically the distilled text of a great deal of classical romance novels, and the basic idea behind any sort of relationship. Assuming "balls" as an unfortunate (in this day and age) metaphor: you ain't gonna get it unless you go for it.

Perhaps the visuals are a little forward for the younger crowd, but they're all on youtube anyway and should be used to dangly bits.
posted by Zack_Replica at 3:06 AM on July 31, 2011


I'm a designer, and liked these as art. I guess I share the concern that they aren't awesome design, in that if you don't already know the story they're just pretty pictures.

Imagine you aren't given a title. Would you want to read any of these stories? The only three which offer us any action are Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel & Gretel, and the Pied Piper. If you pick up the semi-smutty pun in WoO, you might select that as well (and eventually be disappointed, I think, that the cover over-sold the story, if your interests were prurient).

I think these are fun within our cultural context of already knowing the stories, and hence picking up on what each visual represents. If you were from a completely different culture and were presented with these as representing our cherished children's stories, you'd be at a loss to guess what most of them might be about. That's what makes them not fabulous design, as such.*

(I suspect if the titles weren't on the covers, and you were simply shown the set minus the very obvious Little Red Riding Hood, you might take awhile to figure out what the set represented. You might never get there at all. Using this as a guide, perhaps the only really successful cover is Little Red Riding Hood.)

* I have no doubt the person behind these is a better artist than I am.
posted by maxwelton at 3:14 AM on July 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I agree that if we didn't already know the stories we wouldn't gather much about the action or plot from most of these images, but the whole point, the most vital point, is that we do know these stories, and that most of them have classic and also modern ubiquitous imagery attached to them – most commonly these day via monster corporate entities like Disney that have functionally reduced/subsumed/smothered the creative narrative of what are intrinsically evocative, symbolic, universal folktales that should constantly be reinvented in all art forms.

The whole point of Angela Carter's "The Bloody Chamber," for example, is that these are stories that are imposed and layered unto our subconscious, and, as she said, "My intention was not to do 'versions' or, as the American edition of the book said, horribly, 'adult' fairy tales, but to extract the latent content from the traditional stories."

We can agree or disagree about who speaks to us most directly with their personal examinations and reinterpretations of these tales, but wresting them from jaws of Disney and their ilk is always, in my opinion, a Good Thing, and something that will ever interest me.
posted by taz at 3:48 AM on July 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


People are free to turn their aesthetic preferences into moral dogmas if they like, but personally I think other areas of life are better for cultivating moral codes: politics, trade, love, etc. Being all outraged because a design doesn't suit your refined, nuanced tastes just waters down your outrage at, say, capital punishment or religious persecution--or whatever gets your goat.

I for one like these very much. And I like James Taylor and Family Ties too. Doesn't mean I can't still dig VU's Sister Ray and Arrested Development. Sometimes I like things that push the envelope. Sometimes I like things that make me smile.
posted by jwhite1979 at 4:34 AM on July 31, 2011


Cool. Like others have said, it's a nice little exercise in new ways to visualize things we're all familiar with.

This also reminded me of a clever Red Riding Hood image I saw recently in another series of illustrations based on negative space.
posted by p3t3 at 4:37 AM on July 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I liked most of them, especially Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs.
posted by sotonohito at 5:47 AM on July 31, 2011


I assumed the Wizard of Oz one was balls. That's a little joke there, people!

Anyway, this is an interesting design exercise, where the goal is to evoke well-known images from classic stories using a simple and formulaic approach. And it worked. It's competent and at times clever.
posted by Mister_A at 6:10 AM on July 31, 2011


I rather like the Little Red Riding Hood one. It's deliciously sinister with the Wolf's partially disembodied paw off to the left. It almost sneaks into the corner of your eye.
posted by Kitteh at 6:17 AM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think a more apt descriptor would be "hyper-reductive content references."
posted by BeerFilter at 6:51 AM on July 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I liked them. I think it's a talent to do this kind of thing; to walk that line of being simple yet not too subtle that people won't know the story without seeing the title.

Reminds me a bit of this game.
posted by NoraCharles at 7:02 AM on July 31, 2011


I've been looking for really classic examples of minimal movie posters, but google is awash with amateur fan art.

The original master of the field is Saul Bass, creator of the iconic Vertigo movie poster.
posted by svenni at 7:16 AM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, The Wizard of Oz threw me for a loop, but first I was confused by Pinnocchio because that twig looks less like a nose on a face and more like a woody.

I appreciate the comments by Senor Cardgage. I do think these are pretty lazy but pleasant to look at. Several of them seem to be more about design and less about the story. For example the Mary Poppins poster features rain on the umbrella, but the umbrella is not used primarily as a rain shield nor is rain a big feature in the novel. The umbrella is a magical conveyance.

Also I think he should have made the top of the mattress perfectly flat in the Princess and the Pea poster-- the whole point of the story is that only a Princess would even notice a pea hidden under 100 (?) mattresses. OK now I'm seeing what Senor Cardgage is seeing because the more I look at them, the more I realize these have very little depth to them. That Rip van Winkle one is completely useless at conveying anything like the story because it makes it appear as though ole Rip disappears while sleeping.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:53 AM on July 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is another possibility. Instead of being lazy designs that only work because they resonate with our already present knowledge of the story, imagine for a second that the stories are completely new to you. What do they become? I see them becoming puzzles.

The covers might have limited value by themselves, they might not. I find most of them visually interesting regardless, but that's entirely subjective. Their potential utility as a way to bring a prospective reader to pick up the story is pretty clear, though.

"What the hell is this? I've got to read The Princess and the Pea just to see what is going on in this crazy beautiful cover!"

Bam. Success.

I just walked over to my bookshelf and looked at what's there. You know what? Few covers do anything more than anchor the book in a particular genre, and rather than having meaningful icons from the story, quite a few depict scenes that never happen in the story at all.

At least with these covers it becomes clear the designer read and understood the stories s/he is trying to capture visually.
posted by jsturgill at 8:27 AM on July 31, 2011


I think this type of graphic design is popular because it's implicitly a quiz: "How well do I know my movies/books? How does this image symbolize the original work?" As others have suggested, it's kind of a game to go through and either guess the title, or decode the image. I chuckled at the Cheshire Cat's grin, but that's because I was pleased at my own cleverness (OK, I admit it), not because the design conveyed the whole topsy-turvy essence of Alice in Wonderland.

Quiz threads are really popular, with droves of MeFites reporting their scores, so I think we all enjoy the challenge even if, artistically, the designs are a little reductionistic and bland.
posted by Quietgal at 8:49 AM on July 31, 2011


The Cheshire cat grin is a good example of these being riddles or quizzes. What would you do if you wanted to entice a reader? I think I would have included the silhouette of Alice falling into the grin and possibly adding a pair of cat's eyes so that we can tell it is a cat mouth and not just an odd-shaped hole, although perhaps that would be pushing the minimalist boundaries.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:51 AM on July 31, 2011


These seem to be closer to clever quasi-puzzles than serious attempts to convey through minimal design techniques the meaning or freight of childhood folktales.

That said, the term “hyper-minimalism” is just plain stupid. It's minimalism. You can't get a hyper version of it.
posted by mistersquid at 8:10 PM on July 31, 2011


We are long past the days when anything can be described without a "super" "hyper" "mega" or what-not prefix. I’m super totally tired of it.
posted by bongo_x at 9:15 PM on July 31, 2011



"Some of us are designers lawyers and some of us further are poster designerslegislators who work very hard at our craft. If anything, that gives us more latitude to chime in on this trend and specifically these pieces law."

No, looks likes that argument doesn't work. It's nice that you have specialist knowledge. But that doesn't mean that everyone else's opinion is worthless.


Er, yes that argument does work.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:30 PM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


« Older Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unu...  |  Using infrared reflectography,... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments