Redesigning book covers for literary classics using modern pop culture references is nothing new. It's a staple of final projects for graphic design degrees, and I fully expect to see more as grad show season begins next week. But none are likely to have the flair, polish and humour of
Julien Britnic's work.
Julian's latest project, Faustbook, is based around 13 German-language classics: from Goethe's
Faust to Kafka's Metamophosis. It's the visual puns that first attract you – representing the Satanic transaction at the heart of Faust as an eBay auction (with extra points for representing Dockor Faust's incorporeal soul with an emoji-like ghost), or linking William Tell's iconic apple-shooting scene with Angry Birds.
What really won us over though is the way that the coherent and polished art direction and design makes these seem like a convincing series of books from a major publisher (ignoring for a second the slightly clumsily Photoshopped English versions of the titles on some of the books, as well as the obvious copyright problems). The type, framing, clean design and slightly-faded tonal range of much of the photography all combine to create a presentation that's entirely plausible.
(That some of the pop culture references are a few years out of date is also rather charming, though whether this is intentional we don't know).
Image: The Radetzky's March by Joseph Roth (1932), featuring Psy's Gangnam Style.
In an email Julian says that "the message of a classic book is not lost even in our times obsessed with selfies and mobile apps. We learn how the young Werther would soothe his suffering in the world of online dating or the way Faust would sell his soul in an age when almost everything is marketed online. The classics are immortal in the digital era."
Image: This cover for the 1774 loosely autobiographical novel The Sorrows Of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1774) uses Facebook's relationship status to represent Werther's impossible love for Charlotte.
The books were created for the Goethe Institut Bucharest language school in Romania, printed by Fabrik and have been shown in an exhibition around the country.
Image: The adventures of Baron Munchausen from 1785 reinterpreted for a world where Uber exists.
This is the aforementioned
Angry Birds spin on Fredrich Schiller's play about William Tell.
Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane (1884) + Desparate Housewives.
Mephisto by Klaus Mann (1936) + an old Mac.
Nathan the Wise by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1779) + Yoda.
The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse (1943) + Candy Crush.
The Man Without Qualities by Robery Musil (1930-43) + the default Facebook avatar image.
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (1915) + Optimus Prime from the Transformers films.
The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (1924).
Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (which was first published in various forms from 1772 to 1829).