I coloured the book illustrations to give a sickly atmosphere that's dark, oily and grimy. It's very different to my usual illustration but then of course it had to be. The project included the binding design and 10 interior full page illustrations.
Folio asked me to write about my thoughts on the book itself and my approach to illustrating it. I've added the text below which appears in their summer catalogue.
I first read George Orwell’s 1984 in my early twenties and was struck by its powerful ideas that I find impossible to shake off. The book creates a brutal world of an oppressive political system where the people are controlled through fear. It’s a nightmare vision with many parallels to todays’ society including constant surveillance from CCTV cameras and the recent revelations on the NSA. There are so many comparisons with the present world that ‘Orwellian’ is now a much used term to describe breaches of privacy, restrictions of liberty and surveillance under the pretence of security. However, 1984 has humanity and it’s Winston Smiths fragility that draws me in. He’s constantly struggling to remember how things once were and I’m moved by his sentimental attachments to objects and childhood songs as if these hold a key to something more human. He wants to experience life and follow his instincts and there’s a glimmer of hope in his secret and illegal love affair with Julia. He’s willing to risk everything in order to feel something real. That is what I hold onto from the book. He’s a physically weak man resisting at all costs a society where love, individuality and freedom of expression are banned.
In illustrating this book I wanted to show his fragility contrasting with the imprisoning atmosphere. I drew him hunched over with very pale and sickly skin against settings made of straight lines bearing down on him and everywhere the dictatorial face of Big Brother watching.