Grunge Book Cover

Hey, Visitor do you like books? If not, you better keep quiet around Cap .... He LOVES books.

In this mission, you are going to explore the Grunge Typography of legendary graphic designer David Carson and then design a book cover based on one of the novels covered in the English classes at Edison.

"Don't confuse legibility with communication. Just because something is legible doesn't mean that it communicates and, more importantly, doesn't mean it communicates the right thing." ~David Carson

Grunge Typography was the first major design movement of the computer age. Led by David Carson, the Godfather of Grunge, grunge typography was rooted in angst and discontent. He founded Ray Gun magazine. The magazine's legendary covers spearheaded the grunge aesthetic. Read the The Awl's article on David Carson and grunge typography, The Rise and Fall of Grunge Typography. It is the most thorough account of grunge typography.


Create a NEW Pinterest board titled: Graphic Arts 1: David CarsonGoogle his work. Look at his website, or RayGun Magazine. What elements, principles, colors, textures or particular looks make up a David Carson design?Pin each example to your new Pinterest board. With each pin, write a brief caption noting why you chose it as inspiration. What do you see? Describe it as specifically as possible. Don’t be vague.

Student Examples

Here are some examples of Grunge Typography Posters from students at another school to help give you an idea.

Are you inspired? Do you have a good idea of what you are going to create? If so, click COMPLETE to move on.

Do we really judge a book by its cover? Research says people do. The average reader spends no more than 7 seconds looking at book covers online. In those 7 seconds the reader will decide if they will look further into the book, and then decide if they will actually buy and read the book. That’s why it’s so important to have a book cover that grabs attention!


You will be redesigning both the front and back cover, front and back flaps, and spine of a book. It must be a book that you have read, because the front cover needs to clearly communicate what the book is about. Your redesign must be significantly different from the original, and you must justify the reason for the redesign. You need to show the original design along with the redesign.

On the spectrum of art and design, this project is more towards the design end. There is a practical purpose for your design, beyond just something aesthetically pleasing and emotionally moving. The purpose of the book cover (besides covering the book) is to inform a potential reader what the book is about and to persuade him or her to buy it. You will be graded not only on aesthetics, but on how well you achieve the goal of informing and selling. You also need to design the front and back flaps. Publisher and logo should also be included. Your finished product should be an exact mockup of what the actual printed cover would look like.

Look at book covers. What is included on the flaps? Usually there is a bio about the author, there is a synopsis of the book, book reviews, and other books by the same author. Do a little research to see what is included on a book cover.

It is important that you focus on the imagery for the cover. You want the audience to be interested enough in the cover to go further. You want your cover image to represent a theme or a moment in the story.


  1. You will create a Book Cover design for one of the books in the list.
  2. You may NOT use imagery from movies that have been made from the book.
  3. Final covers must be copyright legal, entirely original in design and layout, and professional quality.
  4. All graphic elements must be enhanced, layered, uniquely arranged, and reflective of a semester's worth of design experience.
  5. Your design must in the David Carson grunge style of design.
  6. You may not use more than three typefaces.
  7. You may use only one decorative typeface.
  8. You must include at least one grunge texture.
  9. You may use any case of type (i.e. caps, caps + lower case) or any combination.
  10. You may only use one photograph, and the focus should be on the typography... not the photo.

Download the template file to get started. You will notice it already has crop and bleed marks. Also, there is some template text to give you an idea of where to place certain elements of the cover.

Download Template

Choose from one of the novels listed below. Ideally you would choose a book you have read and are familiar with. Read the synopsis to get a feel for the story and theme of the book to help guide your design. DO NOT copy the original book cover in anyway.

Slaughterhouse Five

The story follows the story of Billy Pilgrim, optometrist and time traveler. The novel jumps through time with Billy as he lives the events of his life over and over again. In this dynamic framework, the reader sees the terrors of war, the quiet desperation of suburban life and the breakdown of the psyche through Billy's time jumping eyes. Just before he is captured as a prisoner of war, Billy experiences his first time jump. Here he sees his whole life, past, present and future, unfold. After the war, Billy returns from Europe to resume his civilian life, but does not cease moving randomly through time, witnessing his birth, his death and events in between. He is eventually abducted by aliens who experience time in much the same way as Billy except that they prefer to look only at life's more pleasant moments. Despite his family's objections, Billy tells the world of his time traveling and of his abduction, highlighting the story with a detailed account of his death.

The Scarlet Letter

The story begins with Hester Prynne being taken from prison to be berated by the townspeople for both her adultery and for keeping her lover's name a secret. As the novel progresses, the reader realizes that Dimmesdale is Hester's lover and that Chillingworth is her husband in disguise bent on avenging his defamed honor. Hawthorne reveals the honest emotion that exists between Hester and Dimmesdale, but tempers it with the danger of their secret being revealed at the hand of Chillingworth. Dimmesdale's health deteriorates as his guilt eats away at him and eventually he reveals to the village that he is Hester's lover and Pearl's father.

To Kill a Mocking Bird

The story is narrated by a young girl who goes by the name of "Scout" Finch. Scout's real name is Jean Louise, a name that is not fitting for a tomboyish, rebellious girl like Scout.Scout lives in the small Alabama town of Maycomb in the 1930s with her brother, Jem, and her widowed father, Atticus. Another presence in the house is the stern but ultimately kind-hearted African-American housekeeper named Calpurnia.

The story takes place during the depression, but the Finch family is better off than many in this small town, as Atticus is a successful and respected lawyer.

Two main themes that permeate this book are judgment and justice. Scout and Jem learn lessons about judging other people through the character of Boo Radley, a mysterious and reclusive neighbor. Early in the story, the children poke fun at Boo, but they ultimately discover his goodness.

This theme is also present in the developments surrounding the character of Tom Robinson. Robinson is a poor African-American field hand who is accused and tried for rape. In the process of defending Robinson, Atticus is able to provide evidence that the young man is innocent. Nonetheless, because of the racist nature of white society in that time and place, the young man is convicted.

Lord of the Flies

The story opens with a plane full of British schoolboys crashing on a deserted tropical island. With no adults surviving the crash, the boys are left to themselves to try to stay alive. Immediately a sort of informal society springs up with the election of a leader and the setting down of formal objectives and rules. Initially, rescue is foremost on the collective mind, but it is not long before a power struggle ensues with Jack attempting to sway the boys to his camp. Possessing different goals and vastly different sets of ethics, the boys divide into two tribes. Eventually, Ralph’s side of reason and rationality gives way to Jack’s tribe of hunters, and the boys sink deeper and deeper into a life of violent savagery.

Diary of a Young Girl

Otto Frank moved his family to Amsterdam from Frankfurt, Germany, their place of origin, once the Nazis came to power and began to enforce cruel laws enacted against the Jewish population. In Amsterdam, Otto enjoys some success as a businessman, but he keeps a close watch on the spreading power of the Nazis. When the Germans invade the Netherlands, the Frank family goes into hiding in a small area above Otto's office. They are joined by the van Daan family. Many of Otto's employees aid the hideaways as they wait and pray for an end to their terrifying ordeal. The war takes a terrible toll on Holland, and food becomes quite scarce. Starvation and crime become rampant in the small country, which only worsens the plight of the Frank family and their friends who hide with them.On the pages of her diary, Anne explores love and questions the meaning of life in a way that is quite typical of a young teen, yet quite extraordinary under the circumstances under which she lives. Her portrayal provides a stark glimpse into her extraordinary ordeal. She captivates the reader with an innocence that contrasts the stark reality of her situation.

The diary ends abruptly on August 1, 1944. There is no sign-off and no explanation, although it is known from historical records that the family was betrayed and captured by the Nazis.


  1. Save both the print version and the web version to your project folder in Google Drive.
    1. Create a NEW project on Behance titled Grunge Book Cover.
    2. Upload the JPG version of your Grunge Book Cover.
  2. Write your project reflection below your three book cover designs.
  3. Submit project link to Canvas.

Once you have submitted proof of your project Mastery, click MASTER to proceed.

Great job, Visitor. Isn't Grunge cool?

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