Digital Storytelling


After looking through the DS106 Assignment Bank, I really wanted to do the assignment “Recover a Classic” simply because the thought of redesigning a book cover sounds amazing to me. I actually was tempted to do this assignment back during the second week of class, but decided against it because I couldn’t think of any designs for books. Now that we’re focusing on Design Assignments, I gave it some more thought and suddenly it hit me! 1984 by George Orwell would be an amazing book to recover, and can be done in minimalist style!

For people not familiar with 1984, it’s a dystopian science fiction novel that focuses on the consequences and effects of totalitarianism, mass surveillance, and the repressive regimentation of persons and behaviours within society. It has become a classic example of dystopian fiction and even coined many “Orwellian” terms, some of the most popular being “Big Brother is always watching” and “2 + 2 = 5.” It’s a very dark book and many parallels between Orwell’s dystopian world and real life have been drawn, especially concerning mass surveillance and violations of freedom or expression. I mainly chose this book because I love reading utopian and dystopian fiction for the darker plots and speculative consequences related to politics and social movements.

This cover was actually really fun to make. Since one the main themes from 1984 is that of mass surveillance, I wanted to include the eye that always appears in connection to this book. The design for the eye actually comes from an iPad case I stumbled across while shopping in my free time. The case can be found on Redbubble and features this image. While I had considered included the phrase “Big Brother is watching” I felt it was too much to put on the cover and did away with it.

I uploaded a copy of the image of the eye to Pixlr and readjusted the canvas size to make it resemble a standard book. From there I enlarged the eye and centered it to make it prominent on the book cover. Using the eyedropper tool, I copied the red background and used it to fill the rest of the canvas, making it a solid color. I could have changed the color, but I wanted to keep the red because to me red can be used to symbolise totalitarianism and oppression. Just look at Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and pretty much an communist symbolism. Most of the time it is red! Afterwards I experimented with Pixlr’s text options. I thought about putting Orwell’s name at the top with the title right under it, but upon looking at it saw that it looked like there was too much at the top of the image and not enough at the bottom. That is when I decided to put Orwell’s name beneath the eye, making the title more prominent. At this point the text was simply white and I wasn’t happy with the appearance, so I decided to add a border and felt it corresponded with the image of the eye. Afterwards I saved the image file and uploaded it to Flickr to share here!

Please tell me what you think! Do you think this redesign gets the point of mass surveillance across? I intended for it to be suitably ominous and creepy, so please let me know if you felt that way upon seeing it!

1984 Redesign


    • Lyndsey Clark

      I came very close to including the saying! I had it written out and everything, but the font wasn’t really working, and it seemed too long when compared to the title of the book. So I got rid of it and I think this version looks much better!

  • Paul

    This is good and striking. The shading in the center of the eye makes me think of HAL 9000 from 2001, another icon of surveillance. I wonder if giving the center circle a reddish tint would emphasize that connection, or if it would be too much.

    • Lyndsey Clark

      I thought about giving the eye a red hue, but thought it might be a bit overkill since the entire back already is red. I rather like the contrast with the black and white as well. It’s simple yet bleak, which was kind of the look I was going for.

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