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Graphic Arts: William Shakespeare’s Othello Book Covers — Best Designs, Images, Artworks & Posters
SINCE ITS RELEASE IN 1604, Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ has been visually interpreted extensively by generations of artists and graphic designers on the covers of printed editions of the play. The results are startlingly good. By Ben Arogundade. April. 02, 2023.
SHAKESPEAREAN GRAPHICS are as important as the words they promote in enticing new audiences to the Bard's plays. Here are some of the best examples from 400 years of artwork and design innovation. The photo design featured above is by Ukrainian artist Adnrey, from 2008.
GRAPHIC PRESENTATION is perhaps more important now than it was in playwright William Shakespeare's day, before the advent of photography. Since then, modern theatre productions and printed editions of all of the Bard's plays have emphasized the importance of eye-catching graphic design in capturing the attention of potential patrons. With this in mind I have selected some of my favourite ‘Othello’ book covers from a shortlist of hundreds, stretching back to the early 17th century. I have avoided what I call 'standard' Shakespeare book cover designs — the ones that simply feature straightforward images or portraits of lead characters in traditional Elizabethan costume.
BEST OTHELLO BOOK COVER DESIGNS
Interestingly, overall, the best cover design work was in poster artwork rather than book covers. Indeed, the only book cover I have included here is the original text-only inside flap of the printed second quarto of Othello, dated 1630. Some of the best design work came from young designers, who were students at the time of their creation, producing work on spec for their personal visual renditions of Othello. As more and more groundbreaking interpretations of Shakespeare’s play continue to appear, the future looks bright for the next round of cool visuals.
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