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Recovering the Classics


Recovering the Classics is an effort to spread awareness of good design and classic literature – two excellent causes! The site canvasses artists and designers to put a contemporary spin on book covers for 50 public domain classics. Given such an eclectic array of adventure, horror, romantic and non-fiction titles to deal with, I’ve been impressed with most of the results – some are beautiful and straightforward, while others take an offbeat approach. Although I’d love to share my favorites here, perhaps it’s best that you go there and dig around.

I had to make my own contribution. The roster offered a lot of tantalizing ideas, but I ultimately ended up selecting Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio because it was a book I remembered cherishing a while back (perhaps we’re overdue for a re-read). Hands was the name of one of the more memorable stories from this collection, which all take place in a rural Ohio town – so the design I went with is built around an evocative photo from the period. I thought it came out nice (and, unlike many other titles, mine is currently the only available design!). Download or buy it here.

4 Thoughts on “Recovering the Classics

  1. Brilliant idea! Love your cover. Less is certainly more in this case.

  2. Thela Robinson on June 4, 2013 at 1:51 am said:

    I’m sure good intentions spring eternal from this overall project, but I simply cannot see the word “CROWDSOURCING” without cringing and desiring to throw up big time. Like all crowdsourcing projects, there’s something upsettingly-trendy and temporary about this “Recovering” project. This is where the best and brightest of our artistic souls now have to go to make 10 or 15 bucks? Recovering DRACULA? Even a good design would forever be tainted by the stink of “crowdsourcing”

    “Hey everybody. Look! I did a nice design for a crowdsourcing project and I just barely retain possession of my Soul”

    You’re much better than this, Matt. Try it a while if you must, but I think it
    lessens all the great art you’ve done and posted in the past. Internet semi-scams such as these do nothing but twist us into thinking we’re accomplishing something great. Why have the greatmusicians and artists of our age been sucked up into the Internet commerce beast?

    Thanks. I like your art

  3. Hi Thela! Thanks for your thought-provoking comment. I guess “crowdsourced” wasn’t a good term to use here, since this book cover site doesn’t make it a contest and (as far as I know) they publish everything that meets their guidelines. Is it a semi-scam? Do they use all the profits to mass murder orphaned puppies? I don’t know, but it seems more legit than the others (Steven Heller endorsed it on his weblog). Mostly I did it for fun and exposing some of my work to other designers.

    I agree that the whole “crowdsourcing” thing for design work is obnoxious and exploitative. I think you’d enjoy this post, Thela –
    http://www.erickarjaluoto.com/blog/design-is-not-a-contest/

  4. Some people are on sites like Fiverr offering their services on the cheap. This affects not only designers but writers and other creative types as well. Of course, you get what you pay for, but is this just part of a larger trend to dilute the quality of artistic endeavors?

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