Fahrenheit 451

Cover and interior illustrations for Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

Client: The Folio Society

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It was an incredible honor to work on this edition, especially knowing the time and care Folio puts into all the books they publish. Working on a larger scale project like this can always be a little daunting, especially when it comes to developing a theme or graphic device that can tie the image making process together. So much of Montag’s discomfort revolves around his inability to articulate what is causing him so much unrest. He can’t explain the wrongness in his life, but feels it regardless slowly eating away at him until it’s finally too much to bare. I wanted to use colour to somehow communicate this, with intense hues signaling the artificial culture created in the absence of literature, and neutral colours dominating the rare moments of peace he experiences with Clarisse and at the end of the novel after finally escaping the city and his old life. The presence of water is such an important metaphor in the book, cleansing Montag in the form of rain and baptizing him as he traverses the river towards his new life amongst the book people.

Conveying the electrical horror of Montag’s daily life was an exciting challenge. Bradbury’s dystopian vision takes the dumbing down of culture to its darkest and most pessimistic conclusion. It’s perhaps not an ugly world, but it is certainly cruel, inhumane and as relevant today as it was when he first wrote it over half a century ago.

Clarisse in the rain

Captain Beatty

The Parlour

The captain burning

The Mechanical Hound

The River and The Woods

Dramatis Personae:
On the cover, Ted McGrath as Montag.
Jodi, one of my favorite models as Clarisse.
James Gulliver Hancock as Captain Beatty.
In The Parlour, from left to right: Julia Wertz as Mrs. Phelps, Lisa Hanawalt as Mrs. Montag, and Domitille Collardey as Mrs. Bowles.