Ceci n’est pas un gadget

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by Peter Terzian

“I love package design that makes the packaging look like other things,” says Olly Moss, a 22-year-old British graphic designer. “I know it’s cheesy, but something about me just loves that little joke.” For Moss’ first book design commission, he made the jacket of Jaron Lanier’s self-described manifesto You Are Not a Gadget—published in the UK by Penguin Books—look like an e-reader. The device on the cover, an imaginary mash-up of the Kindle and the Sony Reader, displays the first lines of Lanier’s text, which argues that the Internet’s culture of anonymity has created a mob mentality and eroded creativity. Moss says that when he first came up with the cover concept, he thought, “Somebody else must have done this.” No one had. “Then you’ve got to get your act in gear and get it together before somebody else does.”

You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier

Moss began designing when he was 17 years old, submitting T-shirt graphics (many starring vampires and zombies) to Threadless.com to “win money to buy things with” while completing an English Literature degree. His affection for Penguin history began long before the company approached him to design the cover of Lanier’s book; for a personal project, he fashioned fake Penguins, using the company’s famous Marber Grid, for some of his favorite video games. Earlier this month, Moss moved to Los Angeles to begin a full-time job designing movie title sequences for Prologue. (A new Sony Reader packed with classics and H.P. Lovecraft tales came in handy when his flight, scheduled for twelve hours, turned into a 32-hour ordeal.) Moss welcomes the idea of more book cover projects—“it’s my favorite design discipline,” he says. It’s also a way to bring his love of literature to his design career. “I know I put a lot of pop culture in my work, but I’d like to get some highbrow stuff in there as well.”

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