Book Covers Are Watching You: A Selection of 1984 Cover Designs

Increasing tensions between the current U.S. President’s administration and major news sources have jettisoned sales of George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984 through the roof. Whether you’re an Orwell fan or not, the novel is certainly relevant in the era of “alternative facts” and “fake news.”

In light of its recent popularity, I was inspired to delve into the iconic book covers that have come to represent 1984. As you’ll see, many of the covers feature the famous “eye” of Big Brother, but others are more offbeat. The color evolution from green to consistent reds also speaks to the world’s political perspective on the text.

Check out some of my favorites below, including both official covers and concept art. I’ve cited designers where I could find them, but some of them have eluded me. If you know any creators I’ve missed, let me know in the comments and I’ll add them:

A Selection of 1984 Book Covers


First British Edition, Secker and Warburg 1949

I was unable to find a cover designer credit for this edition of the book. If you know that information, kindly post in the comments below.


Secker & Warburg, Illustrations by Alex Williamson, 1999 Edition


Penguin Books UK cover by Shepard Fairey, 2008

Like much of Fairey’s work, this cover reminds us of Fairey’s cover for the Fall 2016 Issue of Print Magazine!


Nineteen Eighty Four Anniversary Edition, Penguin UK 2009

I’m particularly keen to learn the artist behind this gem. (Update: This book cover was created by the talented Jon Gray. Many thanks to Timothy O’Donnell.) The back is great too:


[Related:  Power, Fists, Guns, Books: Black Power & Book Cover Design | The Resurgence of Yellow Book Covers | A Language of Images: Insights & Book Cover Design from Rodrigo Corral]


Swedish Edition with Art by by Olle Eksell,1959

1984-book-covers-21984 60th Anniversary Edition designed by Jason Johnson


1984-book-covers-6French Edition with Art by Michel Siméon


French Edition, 1980

1984-book-covers-5Indonesian Edition, 2003


Slovakian Edition, 2009


1988 Penguin edition, featuring “The Soul of the Soulless City” by etcher and lithographer Christopher R. W. Nevinson.


Penguin “Great Orwell” Series Cover by David Pearson, 2013

And a closer look:


And here are a couple of intriguing unpublished 1948 book covers and concepts, sourced from the artists on Behance: 


Proposed 1984 book cover design by Andy Liang


Cover design by Elena Hutchinson


Typographic book cover for 1984 by Adronauts Berlin (Patrick Pichler & Wolfgang Warzilek)

Typography 101: Letterform Design | Online Course


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