I must admit I’ve never thought of myself as a minimalist. However, lately that’s where my preference lies, whether in prose, decor, or art. Any book that is too wordy or that appears to be trying so doggone hard is bound to be set aside quickly.
I came across an interesting post on Pixel Curse from last year, “45 Creative & Clever Minimalist Book Cover Designs.” [If you’re a Harry Potter fan, get ready to swoon over the minimalist series covers.] Going through them reminded me of these great posters by artist Christian Jackson:
Click on the image to be taken to imagekind where they are sold.
What struck me about the book covers and these posters is the distillation of the spirit of the book. Each manages to (mostly) successfully take the book and through simplistic graphics, deliver the message or at least indicate a mainstay in the book’s plot. I think that Alice in Wonderland and Rumpelstiltskin are particularly genius, especially as with Alice you have both the Cheshire and the Pink Floyd reference. That’s masterful.
But then I began to wonder about some of my favorite books undergoing the same treatment. What is the essence of Jane Eyre, for example? Or Invisible Man? Or East of Eden?
The most popular image for Jane Eyre at the moment, is a birdcage with its door open, based on this line: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me.” So net = cage apparently. But what the Etsy-ers and the tattoo artists are misunderstanding is that Jane says she isn’t a bird. So why all the bird imagery? Methinks it’s because birds are popular in decor at the moment, but also because it’s simple. So if not birds and birdcages, what? The Red Room scene has always particularly fascinated me, as has the intensity with which Jane guards her freedom, so I’m thinking a lock, a la [warning: I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination]:
Then of course for Invisible Man, I’d want it to be the recommendation letter that Dr. Bledsoe writes for the narrator because in many ways, that letter determines so much of the narrator’s path. So I’d want the cover to look like this:
But neither is still quite right. I don’t look at either and think Jane Eyre or Invisible Man. What exactly is it, then? And how do the artists so aptly illustrate such meaning with such simplicity? It’s definitely art. Think of your favorite book and try to distill it into one simple image. Can you do it?