Graphic Design Program gives students chance to design new covers for old classics

Heather N. Lubay. | Start the discussion

Cover of The Legend of Sleep Hollow

Student design of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

During spring term, approximately 40 student-designed book jackets filled display cases on the second floor of the PCC Library at the Sylvania Campus.

Tasked with creating a book jacket, the hope was that students take “old, classic edition” books and create “cool, hip, modern” version of the jacket to make someone want to revisit these older works, said Graphic Design instructor Daniel Soucy. All of the books used are public domain and were randomly assigned to students. In total, three classes comprised of about 45-50 students took part in the project.

Student Riley VanDyke designed a cover for “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” She wasn’t sure what to expect from the project but liked how it turned out.

“This project exposed me to a book I didn’t think I’d like, but actually really enjoyed by the end,” VanDyke said. “It was gratifying to try to find a new design for an old story.”

Student Andy Arenas found a different connection to the project.

Cover of The Metamorphosis

Cover of “The Metamorphosis.”

“I hadn’t thought about ‘The Secret Garden’ since I was a kid nor had I read the book,” he said. “Reading the story now was a completely different experience. It made this project nostalgic, personal, and exciting. My goal was to tell the story through the cover and I’m more than happy with the results.”

Once students learned of their book assignment, they were charged with reading (or re-reading) the classic novel, researching the work, its author, and the time and place in which it was written. That research was then used as a guide as they designed the updated cover using fair-use imagery, hand-drawn illustrations, or stock photos, with a limited color palette.

Students received feedback from the librarians, Soucy, or fellow Graphic Design instructor Angie Martorana to finalize their images.

It was then up to the student to create the file, measure and set up the imagery to print out in the lab, trim the cover, and wrap the book by hand.

Overall, students said they enjoyed having an opportunity to gain real-world experience through the project. Karri Buchta, who designed a cover for “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” observed, I definitely look at books a lot differently now after having completed this project. There are so many things that go into designing a book jacket that I would never have considered without having done it myself.”

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