For a while, I struggled to work out an idea for a cover for ‘The Outsiders’, as after I felt burnt out. I think this was a combination of having worked so much last year and then the frenzy of work including the extra week of fixing details that I did at the end of the London Transport Museum project.
Anyway, things which I focused on at the beginning were two quotes from the book: “Stay golden Ponyboy” and “Need a haircut Greaser?”
The first is an important and recurring theme of the book too, but I later ditched it as feeling too upbeat/cheesy an idea for a book cover, and I felt I couldn’t make it work.
The second quote was from a scene at the start of the book, where Ponyboy (the main character) gets jumped by some Socs (a rival gang) because he’s a Greaser (rebellious gang culture 60’s America. Think of the film ‘Grease’) which I felt summarised a large portion of the book quite well as, while it is a coming of age story, it’s also about the Greasers and Socs rivalry. The Socs threaten to cut off Ponyboy’s hair because it’s an incredibly important symbol for Greasers, an open symbol of rebellion against conformity and the Socs clean-cut image.
I ended up focusing on the imagery of Greasers, as I felt it was something hugely important to the characters and could help add a rebellious/gritty feel to the book, as well as show the Greaser’s typically laid back attitude.
In my opinion my most successful images are the simple portrait shot of the Greaser, focusing on his hair, bruise and bloody plaster, and the knife/comb cross, which combines two of the most important things for Greasers; their looks and self defence.
All Penguin Design Awards related posts: