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The Bard Recovered

We like to show off the work of young and upcoming designers as often as possible (see the recent unveiling of our 2012 New Visual Artists). And thanks to our friends at the School of Visual Arts, like Steven Heller, Mirko Ilic, and other instructors, we get introduced to some very talented up and coming designers fairly often. Sagi Haviv, partner at Chermayeff & Geismar, teaches a class on visual identity and recently sent us these examples of his students’ take on Shakespeare. Nice to see the classics are in such good hands.

A brand identity is more than a trademark — everyone knows that. So as part of our Visual Identity class at SVA, we assigned our students a short project to brand a set of three Shakespeare plays. We asked the students to present the plays as a series by creating a visual identity system of sorts (graphic elements, color, typography, layout, etc.), while also giving each play an individual and appropriate look. The challenge was to find an essential element of each story — much like trademark designers work to find a quintessential aspect of a company or institution — while tying it visually to the rest of the overall brand or series. We were very happy with what the students ended up with. – Sagi Haviv, partner at Chermayeff & Geismar

Covers by Gin Chen

“My concept for the Shakespeare cover series was to take certain elements in each story and stain the title with it. In King Lear, I used water because every time a storm was brewing, it meant something tragic was going to happen. In Hamlet, poisoned wine is fatal for the queen, the usurper, and finally Hamlet himself. In MacBeth, recurring blood stains were symbolic of MacBeth’s guilt.” – Gin Chen

Covers by Jill Chia Yang Lin

“I tried to interpret the content of the books by just using type. Starting with wood type, I  created irregular edges to represent all the desires that are described in the books, which eroded humanity and directly or indirectly cause the tragedies. The colors also convey the morals from the books: the reality of life, which is imperfect, always sways between black (bad things) and white (good things).” – Jill Lin

Covers by Najeebah Al-Ghadban

“I was greatly inspired by the way playing cards depict kings, queens, and princes. Each play deals with challenges that royalty face, and I wanted to take such well-known and generalized imagery relating to royalty and re-interpret it in a new manner. Thus I abstracted the playing cards and created new combinations in order to summarize, in a brief image, the thematic elements within each Shakespearean tragedy. ” – Najeebah Al-Ghadban

Covers by Rebecca Liebert

“My Shakespeare covers convey the main themes of each play through simple imagery. The skull represents Hamlet’s constant thoughts of death and his inner struggle, the bloody hand represents the tyrannical rule of Macbeth, and the tilted crown represents the struggle for power between the three sisters in King Lear. I used hand-drawn type and illustrations to convey these themes.” – Rebecca Liebert

Covers by Tal Shub

“In order to create a cohesive series, I looked for a simple common denominator between the tragedies. I chose the form of a sword to portray some aspect or theme of each play: In Macbeth it is the chain-reaction of murders, in King Lear it is the difference between the three sisters, and in Hamlet it is the betrayal by one’s friends and family. The compositions are rendered in flat, saturated colors that vibrate to create tension and energy.” – Tal Shub

Covers by Zipeng Zhu

“The ripped up pieces of paper represent the torn relationships in the stories, and the use of black and white represents the theme of good versus evil. For example, the three pieces of paper for King Lear represent his three daughters, and the one white piece is his good daughter Cordelia. The two pieces of paper in Hamlet represent his murderous uncle and Hamlet himself. In MacBeth, the one black piece surrounded by many white pieces represents MacBeth surrounded by innocents.” – Zipeng Zhu

Covers by Steve Winchell

“These cover designs are my attempt to reduce the dramatic nature of Shakespearian tragedy to the most simple icons possible. The icons are designed to represent key motifs of each play, while the color scheme is reflective of the burden of royalty felt by all three protagonists.” – Steve Winchell

Covers by Alexandra Barron

“These covers were inspired by Freud’s references to Shakespeare. I used them to create simple graphic images representing the main characters in each play. First, Hamlet appears to have dual personalities. The second was based on Lady Macbeth’s symptoms of obsessive compulsion. And last, King Lear declines into a state of dementia.” – Alexandra Barron