Heart of Darkness cover design

snake

My cover design entry for the Folio Society’s Book Illustration competition 2014. The brief was to design a cover and 3 illustrations for Joseph Conrad’s book ‘Heart of Darkness’. The story focuses on a steamboat captain’s physical and psychological journey up the Congo river in search of an elusive ivory trader, revealing the despicable treatment of the native people during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

My book cover is based off a quote from the very beginning of the book:

‘It had become a place of darkness. But there was in it one river especially, a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land. And as I looked at the map of it in a shop window, it fascinated me as a snake would a bird…’ – page 10.

The Congo river is never actually mentioned in the book. However, the river in the book is widely presumed to be the Congo as Heart of Darkness was written based on Conrad’s own experience of the monstrosities committed in the Congo Basin. In order to illustrate this uncertainty, I had the snake on the map obscuring the words ‘Congo Free State’ and the map of Africa itself is at a tilted angle.

Unfortunately, the shortlisted entries have been announced and I’m not one of them but I’m hoping my efforts are going to pick me up some good marks at assessment time!

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