I first stumbled across Mikey Burton’s cover design work for To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee when his cover design was featured on a cell phone case by Out of Print which was in turn being featured on the wonderful design deals site, Fab.com (*Out of Print no longer seems to be offering that specific product). My first that was I WANT THAT. I didn’t end up actually getting it in the end, but I first looked into exactly what this Out of Print store was, and who had designed the book covers they used. Turns out that Out of Print is a store selling a range of products including t-shirts, bags, notecards, etc., all featuring images of book covers. Beautiful book covers. An old fashioned illustration for Pride or Prejudice, or the classic cover design for The Great Gatsby that F. Scott Fitzgerald said he actually incorporated into his storyline because he loved it so much. But also some more updated covers, including the work of Mikey Burton.
So I looked into Mikey Burton. Turns out that he did a whole series of book cover designs for classic children’s stories such as To Kill A Mockingbird, and also included Animal Farm, The Great Gatsby, Fahrenheit 451, Lord of the Flies, and The Outsiders. And he did them for his MFA Thesis project! The goal of his thesis was the creation of, as he describes,
An integrated branding campaign based around the illustrative reinterpretation of classic book covers directed toward junior-high-school students.
My first reaction was No Way! WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?! Because that really would have been fun. I was trying hard to think of a good MFA project involving book design, without much success, and here was a fantastic idea that also involved getting children more involved with literature, something I care a lot about. Unfortunately my thesis project also has to be original, so I can’t just copy the idea, and his covers are so well designed that I can’t really hope to out-do him. Oh well. (Check out his thesis project, overall portfolio, or read an interview with him if you want to know more.)
However, definitely want to give him some kudos for an awesome project, and might still buy a t-shirt from Out of Print featuring his work. Or a notepad. We’ll see.