Re-Covered Books ‘Odyssey’ Winner, Ellis Latham-Brown

Ellis Latham-Brown, Re-Covered Books 'Odyssey' Winner

Click image to enlarge

It’s been a few weeks since the Re-Covered Books Odyssey contest finished, so it’s high time that we announced the winner. Yet again, there were some really great entries, and some that were a bit lacking. But I was really impressed with one design in particular, that of Seattle designer Ellis Latham-Brown.

I chose Ellis’ because I felt like it spoke to just the right audience, a kid in high school. I first read the Odyssey when I was in high school, which in my mind sounded like such an amazing adventure. And I feel like the cover that Ellis created definitely alludes to a lot of that without being too vague or overly descriptive. You’ve got the idea of Odysseus, a hero with a sword, a cyclops, looming in the horizon, the lightning bolts of Zeus and Odysseus’ home far away in the distance. The style in which he created the cover is also feels contemporary, like something you could see on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.

Another aspect to his winning was what he chose not to do. There were a lot of entries that really struck upon a lot of the stereotypes around a cover like this, things like oceans, boats, eyeballs and generic Grecian stuff. In my mind, that’s not really thinking outside of the box. And not to single anyone out, but please don’t ever send me a fake Penguin book cover. It’s an already overused design gimmick and you’ll never win a contest on this site by using such a tired cliché.

So for Ellis’ great work he’ll be receiving a $100 gift card thingy to as well a secret prize, limited edition Mcbess watch from the folks over at Vannen. They sent me one a while back and I’ve been wearing it a lot and getting a ton of comments on it. A big thanks to Dave at Vannen for hooking us up!

McBess Watch by Vannen

Check back next week when we announce… something. It could be a new Re-Covered project, or something new, or maybe even both? Either way, it’ll be something fun and get your creative juices going. A huge thanks to everyone who entered in the last contest, be sure to tell your friends about the next one.


May 2, 2011 / By

Re-Covered Books: ‘Odyssey’

Re-Covered Books: 'Odyssey'

It’s been a little while since the last Re-Covered Books contest, so hopefully you’ve had some time to rest up and are ready to get your hands dirty. This month’s book is the Odyssey by Homer, the Greek epic poem which tells the tell of Odysseus and his long journey home after the fall of Greece. I remember reading the Odyssey when I was freshman in high school and I loved all the crazy characters and amazing imagery that the book contained. You’ve got Gods, you’ve got Cyclopes, the Lotus-Eaters, Sirens, the witch-goddess Circes, the six-headed monster Scylla, the Trojan Horse and so much more. Since there’s so much great, visual content I figured this should be plenty of food for though (or creativity) and everyone could find something to inspire you.

It’s also worth mentioning that there really aren’t any good covers for the book, as is evidenced by this Google search. So doing something really cool will definitely make your work stand out. My suggestion is to stay away from the obvious clichés of making it look like a Grecian urn or something similar. Be creative and think outside the box. Make a design that is both timeless and appealing to a broad audience.

As usual the winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card. But, you must follow the extremely simple rules below the be eligible:

• Please save your images as JPGs no larger than 800px wide at 72 DPI, there no height restrictions (within reason). Feel free to play with the dimensions and have fun with what you make. Making a front and back cover with certainly help your chances but is not required.

• Send all entries to with the subject “Re-Covered Books: Odyssey“. Just cut and paste what I wrote there, it’s super easy and it helps me keep track of entries.

• All entries are due April 15, 2011 by Midnight, PST.

If there are any other questions feel free to leave them in the comments. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with and be sure to tell the creative people in your life to participate. Good luck!

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March 22, 2011 / By

Re-Covered Books ‘Lord of the Flies’ Winner, Bryce Wilner

Bryce S. Wilner

Bryce S. Wilner

Judging these contests is beginning to get more and more difficult as it progresses. For Lord of the Flies, there were a lot of really great entries, but I feel I was able to whittle them down and pick the best of the bunch. Of the almost 50 entries, I felt that Bryce Wilner’s version was the best.

Bryce’s cover has a mix of simplicity and depth that I think works well for a book like this. In his submission email he sent a description that made did a great job of explaining the meaning of the symbols:

I chose the spiral, an icon that has long been regarded as a symbol of creation and destruction, as the central motif for the cover. In this context, the spiral is most directly a reference to the conch shell, the device used to signify order and civilization in the novel. The spiral can also be seen as a reference to Piggy’s single lens (the eye through which all scientific observations are made as well as the source of the signal fire), the fall from the air (beast and airplane), and the boys’ descent into savagery.

The palm tree functions as an emblem of a life stranded in the bush and also denotes a sense of place. The colors were chosen to mimic the paint first used as a mask by Jack, and refer to those present on the highly acclaimed cover by Sam Weber (one which I’ve long since held as a benchmark of quality book cover illustration).

I think the use of this simple, bold shape was a great way to define so much symbolism. The conch, Piggy’s glasses, their lives spiraling out of control on the island. He put so much symbolism but I can honestly see everything he’s mentioned in there. I also enjoyed the single palm tree which was rendered in a very contemporary manner. His choice of fonts were also kept simple and straightforward, easy-to-read and not obtrusive in any way. A wonderful job Bryce!

That’s not all though, we still have 4 runners up to give copies of Sam Weber’s version of the book, thanks to Folio Society. I thought I’d add a bit of commentary about why I picked them but with some notes about what I thought could have been been improved. Nonetheless, all of these folks did an amazing job and were in contention to win.

Matthew GoreMatthew Gore

Matthew’s entry was the very first entry that I received, and I remember looking at it and thinking, what the hell is this? But then I read his description and looked it over a bit more and I really liked what I saw. Now, my interpretation is different from his intent, but when I look at this cover I see a doodle done by a young kid. I remember my good friend Nick used to draw all kinds of weird stuff, and the drawing of the pig’s head on the stick reminds me of that. I think it sums up the rage tht the children feel, like maybe one of them could have drawn this years later.

What I wasn’t as fond of was the back cover, for a couple reasons. First are the streaks of blood, which were made using a brush or were cut and pasted. These kinds of details, presented in front of a designer, will always get noticed. The second is the text on top of the bloody, streaky puddle. The end of the line “Spill his blood!” seems a bit too close to the white space. If the streaks had gone down a bit further underneath “blood” and the exclamation point it would have felt better.

Braulio AmadoBraulio Amado

Our next runner-up is Braulio Amado, who provided this very dark adaptation of the cover. His entry is pretty straightforward, he found the perfect photo of sad, fat pig, added a halftone pattern over the top and BAM, perfect. When I first was looking at his cover though, I thought it may have been painted, so I guess I was a little bummed out when I realized it wasn’t. I could imagine Sam Weber or James Jean painting something like this. I really liked his use of the dotted line to signify the beheading of the pig, subtle but with great meaning. I also liked the fly used as a divider between the title and the author’s name, a nice use of that image.

But there was one part that really bothered me, and that’s the title, and the fact that the word “Lord” has been cut off at the top. I think it was unnecessary and it potentially reads as “Lurd of the Flies” to someone unfamiliar with the book. Clarity is key, especially on a book cover.

Victoria FernandezVictoria Fernandez

I loved this cover for being a bit… out there. Amongst all the entries I felt like this one really stood out from the pack. I think a part of it was her color choices, the red and yellow color combination are quite jarring and remind me of stop lights, stop and slow, stop and slow. I thought the extremely graphic depiction of the fly was nice as well, just some well laid out shapes and lines. I think she also deserves props for not Anglicizing her version and left the title in Spanish. This cover would certainly catch my eye in a bookstore.

Kelvin OsorioKelvin Osorio

When I saw Kevin Osorio’s cover I was definitely captivated right away. There’s this big, giant pig/boar face staring at you, blood dripping from it’s snout. It’s a striking image and I love all the small details he put into it, like the bits of hairs around the snot and slight splatters of blood.

I wasn’t sure though if this was a proper image to sum up the book. The graphics feel a bit cartoon-ish, which doesn’t really fit the tone of the book, in my opinion. But I find the idea extremely clever and well done.

A huge thanks to everyone who participated in the contest, I hope you had fun creating, and congrats to the winners. I’ll be announcing the next Re-Covered Books title next Monday, so get your pencils/mouses/paintbrushes ready.


March 2, 2011 / By

Re-Covered Books: ‘Lord of the Flies’ Update – Win A Copy of Sam Weber’s Version of the Book

Sam Weber's 'Lord of the Flies' Giveaway

I just updated the Lord of the Flies Re-Covered Contest with a bunch of amazing entries and I have to say there’s a lot of great contenders so far. That said, I want to up the ante a bit by making the deal a little sweeter. Thanks to the awesome folks over at Folio Society I have 5 copies of Sam Weber’s version of Lord of the Flies to give away to the winner and 4 runners up. These books aren’t cheap, they run for $50 a pop, so these are some pretty great prizes.

That said, all entries are due this Friday by Midnight PST so you’d better hurry if you want a chance to win $100 or one of Sam’s amazing books. For entry details and rules click here. A huge thanks to Folio Society for hooking us up.


February 22, 2011 / By

Re-Covered Books: ‘Lord of the Flies’

Re-Covered Books: Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies

When I was in high school one of my favorite books, hands down, was Lord of the Flies. Written in 1954 by William Golding, the book takes a look at human nature and how we act when we lose the constructs of civilization. It was easy for me to imagine being on trapped on that island, but I was never sure which side I would be on.

I figured this would be a good book to take on for our second round of Re-Covered Books. The first contest, featuring The Great Gatsby, was a pretty great success and there were a lot of really beautiful entries from people around the world. A book like Lord of the Flies is filled a ton of really great imagery and plenty of visuals to inspire your creative process. As with last time the prize is a $100 Amazon gift card and having your work featured on the site. I’ve also made some modifications to the rules so please take a look below.

• Your images must be no larger than 800px wide at 72 DPI, no height restrictions (within reason). Feel free to play with the dimensions and have fun with what you make. Making a front and back cover with certainly help your chances but is not required.

• Send all entries to with the subject “Re-Covered Books: The Lord of the Flies“. Just cut and paste what I wrote there. It’s super easy and it helps me keep track of entries.

• All entries are due February 25th, 2011 by Midnight, PST.

If there are any other questions feel free to leave them in the comments. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with and be sure to tell your friends if you think they’d enjoy being a part of the fun. Good luck!

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February 2, 2011 / By

Re-Covered Books: The Great Gatsby Winner Philipp Dornbierer

Philipp Dornbierer

Philipp Dornbierer

The first Re-Covered Books contest for The Great Gatsby has been a huge success and I have all of you to thank for it. There were a total of 72 entries from people across the globe, so you can imagine it was quite difficult to pick just one winner. There were a lot of themes that showed up throughout the entries. So, I thought I’d make a little note. In total, there were 15 entries that used fancy men, 11 used money related imagery, 8 used drinks, 7 used cities, 6 used eggs, 5 used tears, 5 used eyes, 4 used a car, and 3 used a lightbulb. The largest commonality was the use of green, which showed up, large or small, in 42 entries.

But of all the amazing entries there could only be one winner–and that was Philipp Dornbierer. Philipp is a Swiss illustrator and designer who’s entry you can see above. He was picked for a few reasons. First, his choice of color. The black of the cover with the accents of white and green are extremely haunting, but also do a nice job of referencing the colors of money without being overt about it.

Second, the image of Daisy, which is near perfect. In the book she’s described as a “girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs.” This image completely embodies that line–but, that’s not all. He purposefully put Daisy on the front so her hair could represent the time period the book takes place. Finally, the eyes in her hair? What if I told you the two parts represented the two men in her life? Now imagine the two pieces as men looking down at her. See it? Just brilliant.

The final reason is the way he chose to represent the title of the book. At the end of the book, Gatsby is killed by Wilson, who shoots him in his pool. The way he’s rendered the font it’s like Gatsby floating dead in his pool, bobbing along the surface aimlessly.

Here are a few words that Philipp wrote about his entry:

While I was reminiscing about the story, I took notes of what I thought were important details. Most of them revealed too much information though. So I came up with the final concept, which gives a hint of the build-up, using the hairdo (which also leads to what time it takes place) to display the men in her life. I choose the cover to be black. It highlights the sadness and truth in the story. The second color is green, the color of money (at least dollars) which seems so important to them.

Congrats Philipp! You did a fantastic job, as did so many of you. I’ll be announcing the next book in the Re-Covered Books contest tomorrow, so be sure to come back and get your thinking caps on. Thanks to everyone who entered and, remember, if you didn’t win this time, there’s always next time.


February 1, 2011 / By

Re-Covered Books: ‘The Great Gatsby’

Re-Covered Books

I’ve been excited to start a new competition for a while. A kind of project that would be enjoyable for me to curate and would engage you as a creative person. Offhand, I mentioned on Twitter that it would be interesting to have readers create their own covers for books. So, I’m presenting the newest The Fox Is Black competition: Re-Covered Books. The idea is simple: create a cover for a book I choose and the winner gets a $100 gift card to Amazon. Sound good?

The first book we’ll be re-covering is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I wanted to start with an American classic that was well regarded by many and I feel like The Great Gatsby has a lot of rich imagery that will translate well to a cover. Do a Google search of “The Great Gatsby Book Cover” and you get a lot of variations, some of which I’ve posted above for inspiration. The one I’m most familiar with is the top left one, with the flapper looking girl with a tear rolling down her face, superimposed over Coney Island. But, my favorite is the simple Alvin Lustig cover with the giant dollar sign: clean and beautiful.

The competition will judged by myself, Danica, and Alex with one grand prize winner taking the cake. I’d love to see you take this project and really creating something remarkable. My suggestion would be to print out a full dust jacket and wrap it around a book you own. The size and shape are up to you and your taste. The more effort you take, the better your chance to win. I’ll be posting all of the entries in a separate post and a link in the sidebar so you can check in to see what’s new. Here are the details:

• Size and shape are completely up to you: the more inventive, the better. It does need to be a book though. No electronics!

• Send all entries to with the subject “Re-Covered Books: The Great Gatsby“. Just cut and paste what I wrote there. It’s super easy and it helps me keep track of entries.

• All entries are due January 28th, 2011 by Midnight, PST. That gives nearly 3 weeks to create something for the competition.

If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. I hope a lot of you participate, as I think this could be a really fun competition and your work could get noticed by some really cool people. Good luck!

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January 10, 2011 / By