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Book Cover

Fahrenheit 451 Cover

Visual metaphor for Ray Bradbury’s classic novel.


In the future society painted by Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451, firemen don’t put out fires, they start them. These firemen, cheered by the society in which they live, burn books for what they believe is the common good. Bradbury’s account is a classic novel about censorship.

The first assignment of the Spring term in my second year at CalArts was to design the cover for Fahrenheit 451. The focus of the assignment was to create a visual metaphor.

We were given two days before presenting our first draft. In that time I chose two metaphors from the book and attempted to express them. The first was self-censorship.

The idea here was to show the blissful attitude Bradbury’s society had towards burning books. I created smiling, happy paper people holding hands as they burned books:

Photo shoot

The funny thing about this photo shoot was that it was actually incredibly difficult to burn books! Even though I purchased miniature books from Barnes & Noble and dosed them with flammable liquids, the books would not easily catch on fire.

First draft

The first draft of an alternate cover idea.

This idea paled in comparison to a visual idea I had to express another, related metaphor: ignorance. To express this idea, I took inspiration from propaganda art of the 1930s. Strong colors and basic visual shapes created powerful political posters of the time and were good tools for expressing my metaphor.

The result was the winning idea: an illustration of identical, anonymous firemen blindly following each other towards an unknown destination. Their acts of censorship leading them towards the dark world Bradbury imagined in his book.



Year: 2008

Size: 6″ x 9″

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Full book jacket

Full book jacket.