This week, our Challenge has been inspired by a post on The Fox Is Black, a blog I recently subscribed to. The blog is “an art and design website that seeks to discover and share the most interesting, beautiful and inspiring parts of contemporary life.” Well worth checking out—but let’s cut to the chase: they’re having an art contest where the winner gets a $100 gift certificate from Amazon!!!

But there are zillions of contests out on the interwebs; this one is actually really cool AND fits in nicely with the mission of Marvin Artists: to inspire you to create different types of art. The contest is part of The Fox Is Black’s regular feature “Re-covered Books”, where they invite people to come up with their own unique interpretation of a particular book’s cover. For this contest, your task is to create a new cover for Homer’s Odyssey. Use whatever media you wish, and feel free to make a back cover for extra credit. And don’t forget: $100!!!

You can find full information for the Recovered contest here. We hope to see your Marvin Artists submission before next Wednesday, but the actual deadline for the contest proper is April 15.

Now I just need to read The Odyssey…


Hey there Marvinites. Another week, another exciting artistic Challenge!

Penguin Books, the UK publisher, is famous for their distinctive cover designs. The design style has gone through many different phases, with the iconic orange covers being arguably the most famous. (The covers were coded by colour, sharing a common design layout. Orange was for general fiction, green was crime, cerise for travel and adventure, and so on.) Illustrated covers were resisted for many years, but when they did arrive, the images were distinctive and bold. Icons and text were also used in a bold style that made Penguin Books stand out from other titles at your local W.H. Smith’s. Penguin also published Pelican books (intended to be educational) and Puffin Books (aimed at children).

For examples of Penguin Book covers, a simple Google search will turn up zillions of matches. Good centralized collections are this one of science fiction titles, this great two-page Flickr collection, and this large gallery from a book cover-related site. Need the Penguin logo? You can find a nice large one here. The older Penguin badge is in this image (which may also serve as a template if you want to do one of the more basic, classic cover styles). And the excellent Wikipedia article from which I got much of the information in this post tells us that the common font used on the early Penguin Books was Gill Sans.

So what we’re doing is picking a book that has not been released by Penguin (don’t feel the need to prove it hasn’t been, though! Save your energy for being creative!) and then making a new cover design in the Penguin style. Do one in the banded colour format of the early days, something bold and dynamic like the books of the 60s and 70s, or the classy artsy covers of the 21st century. Be imaginative; be clever; be a Marvin Artist!


PS: pretty much unrelated, but this poster advertising Penguin’s new audiobook range is AWESOME.

PPS: Another aside: this is possibly my favourite Penguin cover EVER.


This should be an interesting Challenge: we’re tackling the unique look of the dvd covers from the Criterion Collection. Criterion produces some of the most complete, researched, and well-restored movies available, and their distinctive “arty” dvd covers are part of what has made them famous. Your mission this week (should you choose to accept it) will be to pick a movie that Criterion has NOT released, and design a cover for it.

While movies from the Criterion Collection have a unique and identifiable look, they don’t follow a strict formula, and thus there is a wide variety of styles in their covers. Some include an image or two from the film itself, while others might include a mix of images and icons. Some are drawings, some are manipulated images not necessarily drawn from the movie itself, and others are more abstract. The one unifying characteristic of all Criterion covers is boldness; they have a marked style that sets them apart from mass market videos, with artistic qualities, clever use of colour, and striking typography.

A good place to get an overview of real Criterion covers is this website, where a guy has posted his fifty favourites. For this Challenge, you can get a lot of inspiration from the Fake Criterion website; there’s about 6 pages of fun dvd covers there. (That’s where I got the pictures at the top of this post.)

I thought I’d give y'all some links to helpful resources for the Criterion graphics themselves. A clean copy of the “C” icon can be found here. An EPS of the “Criterion Collection” text can be found here, although I’d suggest just using a narrow sans serif font like Helvetica.

Now go out and make something that looks expensive!


Hello fellow citizens of Tatooine…I have felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if Evil itself has called out into the night and demanded to be redesigned by a group of innovative independent artists. We have a new Challenge. It is our destiny to honour Lord Vader and rethink his image in a new, original, and supa-cool style. The folks over at Superhero of the Month have introduced a contest calling for submissions of Darth Vader redesigns, and our Challenge this week is to do just that. Once you’re done with your design, post it here AND enter the contest! Wouldn’t it be cool if one of the Marvinites won???

I’ve got a good feeling about this…may the Force be with you (whichever side you owe allegiance to.)


PS: The above image is from a different Vader Redesign contest earlier this year, and is by Hydro74, who designs some really cool fonts and has the badassiest business card on the planet. Check out his site!

Hey folkses! We have a new Challenge, the first of five weeks in the Mad Month of May, where we devote ourselves to the mystic arts (see what I did?) of TAROT! In honour of our newest Marvin Artists acolyte, Robert Bapst (of Houdini fame), each week in May, we’ll feature a new Tarot Challenge, redesigning the cards of a standard tarot deck. Our inspiration comes from that always-entertaining blog, Super Punch, who challenged a number of artists to each design a card in the tarot, with the complete deck being featured at an art gallery.

For this first week of the Mad Month of May Tarot Challenge, Marvin Artists dares you to design a card from the suit of PENTACLES! Pick any card, Ace through ten or one of the face cards, Jack (also known as the Page), Knight, Queen or King. Do a few, if you like! Note that the suit of Pentacles is sometimes called the suit of Coins or Disks, so that’s cool too.

If you’re unsure what cards look like, or are generally unfamiliar with tarot cards, check out the above link to Wikipedia, or search around on Google Images. Two important things to remember: 1) Have fun. 2) Don’t summon the Devil (or Charles Nelson Reilly).