Shepard Fairey Meets George Orwell
April 13, 2008 6:09 PM   Subscribe

Shepard Fairey's cover art for Penguin releases of 1984 & Animal Farm.
posted by jonson (29 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like em. Though he's sort of getting all Phillip Glassish about this mock soviet propaganda style.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:17 PM on April 13, 2008


At first I was like wow this is just like the style of that artist up in Providence who--

Oh. Yeah. That's his name, isn't it. Heh.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 6:24 PM on April 13, 2008


Good post.
posted by humannaire at 6:34 PM on April 13, 2008


Penguin has been producing some really gorgeous book covers of late.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:40 PM on April 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Heh - that's exactly what I was thinking to, Dave Faris. Pretty soon you could release a "Fairey" plug-in for Photoshop that might be indistinguishable. Still, it's nice to have a brand.
posted by jonson at 6:41 PM on April 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like the covers but I hate blurbs that tell you the plot of the book up through the 2/3 mark. Fuck off with the spoilers, blurb writers. I loved Pride and Prejudice when I first read it precisely because I didn't yet know what would happen, and I was young enough that I was surprised that a classic could be unpredictable. (Set aside whether you agree that P&P is unpredictable -- the point is, these are stories that unfold in a way for a reason, and if you just give it all away on the back cover, you're draining the fun and tension from the experience of reading the book.) At the beginning of 1984, we don't know if he will find love, and the way that part of the book unfolds is important to our sense of Winston's psychological situation.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:43 PM on April 13, 2008 [5 favorites]


And then there's blurb writers who haven't read the book at all....
posted by orange swan at 7:00 PM on April 13, 2008


"... This edition is the one we want to get into the hands of school kids, to grab their short attention spans. ..."
In my day, when 1984 was still the distant future, and the book of the same name was a possible dystopian forecast thereof, we read it, not because we liked the cover, but because our teacher told us to do so, and would have flunked us, after ridiculing us publicly, if we hadn't.

Kids today live in a world of too many nice book covers, and not enough threat of public ridicule. Orwell tried to warn us. But did we listen? No. We read it, we reported on it, and we promptly forgot it, and now, sure enough, they're dressing it up in harlot red and black, and marketing it, fer chrissake.

Well, we've no one to blame, but ourselves.
posted by paulsc at 7:07 PM on April 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


Then again, I still like Phillip Glass, too, despite his music hasn't really evolved much in the last 30 years. Minimalists are so lazy.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:08 PM on April 13, 2008


I wonder who he copied to make the Penguin covers.

See previous: Shepard Fairey Plaigarist?

(Before everyone gets huffy - I get the whole commercial sampling bit - ala Designers Republic. And I am a BIG low-brow art fan, but I'd like to see one thing of Fairey's that wasn't sampled. This said, the cover is great).
posted by gnash at 7:10 PM on April 13, 2008


My college students haven't read it. None of them were required to read it in high school. It's a hell of a time for it to drop out of the curriculum.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:15 PM on April 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


I have to say I had never heard of this guy and I hadn't read anything about his philosophy or his street cred (or lack thereof) until I came into the thread. My outsider's view, on looking at the covers, was "holy crap, those are awesome". Just a datapoint from the unhip.
posted by The Bellman at 7:46 PM on April 13, 2008


It's a hell of a time for it to drop out of the curriculum.

No kidding. Surprising that it isn't being taught in your area, though. I graduated from high school in Montana in 2000, and I think everyone ran into the book at some point at my public school. In the AP literature class, in fact, we read 1984 and Brave New World at the same time and I think the teacher also gave us some passages from We. Hopefully it isn't out of the curriculum everywhere.
posted by msbrauer at 7:53 PM on April 13, 2008


That guy always reminds me of KMFDMs cover art.
posted by Artw at 8:52 PM on April 13, 2008


if you're going to grab people, get them by the short and curlies.

Good job at tapping into the contemporary progressive conscience, Penguin. Why, Jack Black himself couldn't have spoken the urgency of these perennial political classics better!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:53 PM on April 13, 2008


You know exactly what the covers look like before you see them. Meh.

As a designer myself, I understand the unfortunate truth that the only way to become famous is to develop a cool style and then run it into the ground and inflict it on every piece you create whether or not its appropriate for the subject.

But still, cmon Shep, widen your style out a bit. You have peoples' eyes, now get them to follow you. Isnt there someone else you can rip off that isnt in this exact same lockstep style youve been rocking for a decade plus now?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:11 PM on April 13, 2008


They arrived in 25 boxes shrink-wrapped on a wooden pallet, over 750 lbs. of books.

That would be the entire Penguin collection as of late 2005 (only $8000).
posted by dirigibleman at 9:22 PM on April 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


If you want a picture of the future, imagine innovative marketing stamping on a human face—forever.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:11 AM on April 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I thought that new blurb sucked too. The writing was so flat and uninteresting. And LobsterMitten is right, The fact that Winston finds love is one of the key turning points of the book and it really comes as a suprise.
posted by delmoi at 2:14 AM on April 14, 2008


The blurbs SUCK. The less said about the plot and it's labyrithian turns the better, much less the hints of Winston finding 'true love'. Anyone looking for true love in an Orwell novel is either badly misguided or indulging in some terrific drugs.

The blurbs should be confined to place, setting and some rudimentary discussion of plot and conflict. Love? Big Brother's got some Total Information Awareness for your ass...

[Without the blurbs, I came to appreciate 1984 as a biographical roman à clef of Britain during and immediately after WWII (closed borders, black market shenanigans, thought police, etc.), which is scarier, given the costs of 'war', 'freedom' and all the rest. War narratives seldom lend much attention to the hardship of civilian noncombatants on either side.]
posted by vhsiv at 2:33 AM on April 14, 2008


I wish he hadn't put his personal "obey giant" logo in the bottom-center of both of the covers. Get over yourself and put that shit on the back.
posted by churl at 2:34 AM on April 14, 2008


These aren't very good (good post, though!). They're ugly, which would be fine in itself – although Penguin did much better Sovietesque covers in the 1970s with (e.g.) Solzhenitsyn's short stories (no image on the internet). What i really don't like is the way this cover seems to interpret the narrative as exclusively anti-Soviet satire. It's very 'nice' in a graphic design way, but the iconography is lazy.
posted by 15 step at 3:49 AM on April 14, 2008


On a related note, 1984 pencilled as a black-and-white comic is worth a look.
posted by arungoodboy at 5:21 AM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I prefer Chris Ware's cover for Candide that came out a few years back.
posted by mikeh at 6:38 AM on April 14, 2008


As a designer myself, I understand the unfortunate truth that the only way to become famous is to develop a cool style and then run it into the ground and inflict it on every piece you create whether or not its appropriate for the subject.

Well put. I'd really like to see him take chances with his work.
posted by rottytooth at 7:18 AM on April 14, 2008


We read it, we reported on it, and we promptly forgot it

It is pretty obvious that a lot of people have forgotten it.
posted by flaterik at 10:40 AM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I wonder who he copied to make the Penguin covers."

I thought the same thing when I saw the headline.
posted by klangklangston at 10:46 AM on April 14, 2008


>That guy always reminds me of KMFDMs cover art.

That's (most often) the brute, a much better artist IMO. And I don't dislike Fairey.
posted by 7segment at 11:28 AM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shepard Fairy, really? Some reason I'd thought he'd finally slunk out of relevance.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:17 PM on April 14, 2008


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