They Call Me Marty!
Design goodness and other ramblings.

Posted on February 04th, 2010 3 Comments

Redesigning George Orwell’s 1984

This semester I am taking 18 units of design classes at Cal State Dominguez Hills. This is my first project for Art 446 - Design Practices.

The Parameters of the Project

  1. Original Photography: You can only use your own photography for the imagery of the cover. You will create the composition within the photo and not digitally. You will only use Photoshop to enhance the photo’s contrast, tinting,etc… No effects, no manipulations! Do not recycle one of your old photos!
  2. Typographic Treatment: You need to integrate your type with your image. Type placed on top of your photo will not work! There are two ways of establishing this. The first one by creating type that is being photographed and the second way is by placing the type digitally taking in account the composition of the image. Establish typographic contrast in 3 different ways - Scale, Color and Typeface (Do not use any display type!)

I started out by watching the 1984 version, directed by Michael Radford—thanks Nextflix! I then sketched out some ideas, took a few pictures and started laying out the concepts. The picture of the brain is from the Natural History Museum. I use to near Downtown L.A. in a building adjacent to an ally that bordered two buildings with perfect red brick walls, that’s where the wall picture came from. The blurry girl on the first three versions is my wife. I used my Canon Rebel XS with the standard lens kit (18mm - 55mm). I used Photoshop to adjust the images a bit and InDesign for layout, type and to output a .pdf. Our class is using Flickr, so have a look at some of the work from other kids in my class.

The Initial Sketches

1984 Sketches

The Redesigned Versions

This is version 1. Image of a person with thought bubble, only that the thoughts are taped over. The concept include censorship, “thought police”, I blurred the image of my wife when I took the picture because in the movie the individual is not suppose to matter.

1984 Redesign - Version 3

This version—and the next one—are takes on the first concept. The idea is the same but I am using a different typographic treatment. I used black and red to make an association with the imagery of socialist propaganda of the 1940’s, and Russian constructivism.
1984 Redesign - Version 4

A more subtler typographic treatment with a larger and bolder font. The phrase “War is peace, slavery is freedom, ignorance is strength” is a quote from the book and is set in Baskerville Italics.
1984 Redesign - Version 7

This is one of my favorites. The concept is “you don’t matter!” Winston—the book’s protagonist—works for the “Ingsoc” party altering historical documents. There are moments in the film when in order to change the past, old newspaper stories and headlines are altered and the faces of individuals are covered up with tape. That is where this concept came from. The font is Telegrafico.
1984 Redesign - Version 8

The original concept was to slice a picture of a brain and lay it out with gaps to symbolize prison bars. I handwrote the title and then scanned it. The typography over the brain is also handwritten and scanned in.
1984 Redesign - Version 6

This is a more concervative version of the previous. For the by-line I use the font Museo Sans and for the title I am using Helvetica Regular bold.
1984 Redesign - Version 5

In this version, I took the concept of the prison bars above further. I decided that perhaps the gaps in the first version weren’t wide enough, so I sliced the picture at 1.5” inch intervals. This gave me more room to cut out the shape of the title right into one of the sliced strips of imave. I like this version better than the one above, but perhaps It’s missing some color to create contrast.
1984 Redesign - Version 2

Finally, the wall version. When I did my initial sketches I was really excited to try this concept out. It was suppose to resemble prison wall markings. The markings were going to serve as the title, but in the end the hash marks were not too easily read. That is why I duplicated the title in the middle. I like the by-line in this version the best.
1984 Redesign - Version 1

I welcome any feedback.

3 Comments


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On February 8th, 2010 at 3:10 AM

othman thought that:

Really good Work !

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On February 11th, 2010 at 9:41 AM

Marty Romero thought that:

Thanks for your comment. This was a fun project to work on.

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On February 14th, 2010 at 10:43 PM

John G thought that:

Really cool. I wish you


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