Jay Design

Undergrad Senior Degree Project: Illustrated Dystopia

Project Description

This year long project is the result of hours of academic and creative research. The purpose of the project was based off my own self-interest in illustrated narrative. Throughout the research process I studied various forms of illustrated narrative and applied this knowledge to create thought-provoking images for my personally favorite dystopian literature.

Brave New World. 1984. Fahrenheit 451. Fictional stories that depict a dystopian society. Where genetics are used to define our destiny, fear and unlimited surveillance controls what we feel, and ideas that defy the status quo are burned. These books written so long ago resonate with our society today. The themes and allegories feel so familiar. That is why it is important that they are retold and understood. Through imagery I am encouraging critical thinking concerning the ideas and warnings present in each of the novels. These images are meant provoke discussion and can be used as a secondary source for learning.


To start off I read through each novel and took notes on scenes and imagery that I thought best described the themes and ideas. I decided that I would only use my own thoughts and observations rather than looking at secondary soruces as well. After studying the source material I began sketching out different imagery. I later used to illustrator to refine and flesh out the sketches.

Along with the initial illustrated imagery I experimented with using different matertial and tools that could be implemented into the designs. I would use such material as paint, ink, burlap, and newspaper. Any type of material I could get my hands on I would see if I could implement it into the design.


After the creative research process I ended up conceptulizing individual image cards based off of key transcripts from the dystopian literature. The front of the card was the representation of the passage and on the back was the actual text. Orignally I was going to create a book with the images and text juxtaposed on separate pages. After further thought and discussion with my professors I decided that creating cards would be better suited as a learning tool.

Gallery Display

Each Member of my senior design class was tasked with their own degree project. At the end of the spring semester each student displayed their project at Senior Thesis Show. My setup inluded three large posters with images representing each novel. Under each poster I installed a shelf with all the cards placed in a container. Anyone could go up and handle the cards. I even made extra cards for people to take home if they wanted.


I had learned many new things about myself as a designer working on this project. I began to understand what I enjoyed about design and what I did not. I believe this has helped me grow and understand a bit more of how I want to continue my path as a designer. Narrative plays a large role in how I design. I enjoy telling stories whether it be my own or someone elses. Stories can be told and shared in many ways. Whats is important is being able to convey the story and have the one being told create a unique response.