Book Cover Design Project #2 – Paranoia

Paranoiaa mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance, typically elaborated into an organized system. Suspicion and mistrust of people or their actions without evidence or justification.

Oh the details I could share about my inspiration here. But I can’t and I won’t. Call me paranoid, but this website is actively promoted and who knows who might stumble upon it;)

book cover design project 2 - paranoia

So I will stick to the definition above and the design analysis below for my description. Perhaps you all can write your own book from personal observations. I chose the image of eyes as the symbol for paranoia. After all those who are paranoid often feel they are being watched. The bottom set of eyes look stressed and vigilant as though they are on the look out. The top pair look as though they are critical and judgmental, disapproving of what ever it is they see. Note that they are watching each other. Which pair of eyes do you interpret as belonging to the paranoid?

Another dynamic of this design is in the typography. I chose to set the word “paranoia” in a grungy distorted typeface (called Magnesium, Grime). The typeface makes the word look as though it has been worn, damaged or deteriorated. Another interpretation could be that it has been set in a careless or hasty manner. However you might see it, my chosen typesetting reflects many aspects of the underlying mental state associated with paranoia. I repeated the word and offset each instance of the word to further convey the disorganized or uneasy feeling.

Color. I used muted dark colors except for the primary instance of the word “paranoia,” which is colored pale yellow, and the whites of the eyes where I used a pale yellow gradient. The overall composition is dark. It creates an uneasy spookiness. In the minds of most paranoids this is the alternate reality they create for themselves. They are usually paranoid because they can’t honestly assess their own shortcomings in a healthy way. Rather than face those insecurities, they create a world in their heads that is dark and sinister where they are being persecuted and victimized by external factors rather than accepting the fact that they have normal strengths and weaknesses like everyone else.

So, what was your answer to which pair of eyes belong to the paranoid? At first I designed this piece based on the bottom pair of eyes belonging to the paranoid. I placed them at the bottom to establish their stature as lowly and overpowered. However after reviewing the composition I realized that paranoia goes both ways. The top pair of eyes represent paranoia by a person, or group of people, in power. Perhaps exaggerated self-importance or superiority, perhaps genuine but misguided authority. Imagine the lower pair of eyes belonging to a less powerful person or group. Imagine that person or group feeling that they are being monitored in every conceivable way, they feel persecuted. Then imagine the top pair of eyes of the one, or ones, in power looking critically and mistrustfully at the individual(s) below them. So the answer is, either pair of eyes could be suffering from paranoia. As the artist I say both are paranoid and feeding off of one another, creating a vicious cycle that might escalate itself to a breaking point.

There’s the thesis. I’m sure each of us can plug in the details and write our own stories.

See you all tomorrow.