UPDATED: See the end of the post for comments by John Parot.
It's all over the internet, at least if you visit the distinctly nerdy places I do: Penguin got some contestants on an irritating sounding become-the-next-great-modern-artist TV show to design a book cover, and then rushed the result into print. This is the underwhelming result:
The artist, John Parot, described his inspiration as "my reality and gay culture", apparently, which is part of my problem with this thing: it's about the artist and not at all about the book, which is a self-indulgent mistake. I don't mind the type, to be honest: at least it's hand-drawn, with all of the irregularities that entails, rather than being some free distorted font slaped on there. Overall, though, it's not much good, and the banner across the top makes it even worse.
Still, you only need to look at some of the other possibilities, and you can see how much worse it could have been. And I can't quite believe I just linked to the site of a "reality" show. Excuse me while I slit my wrists. Take a look at some of these hideous contenders, and you may feel the need to do the same:
This reminds me of the time Penguin asked musicians to design covers for them, and got a bunch of murky, shitty rubbish.
UPDATE: John Parot commented on this post, and I think it's fair to reproduce what he had to say here, to give his side of the story:
Hi! I thought I'd enlighten some of you haters. You misunderstood some things. I was asked to create a book design for the Penguin Classic "The Time Machine". When we met with the representative we were asked to create a cover that would win new readers to these old classics. My inspiration for the piece was not my "gay culture" or gayness or whatever it was called. On the T.V show the producer showcased my professional artwork. They sited that in my profession artwork I reference my gay reality and it is a constant theme. This book and the design has nothing to do with being gay.
I grew up in a Library, my Dad is a historian and librarian. I grew up collecting paperbacks and have seen many covers. For this cover I was thinking of the gorgeous Milton Glaser Illustrations in the sixties as well as the classic psychedelic sci-fi of the 70's That is where the "jumble of purple/pink" colors comes from. It is stylized time machine. not the one described in the book, but one i wanted new readers to go into. Since the book is psychological as well as fantastical, I decided my machine would have a profile of a person, to echo the struggles of the main character.
What surprises me the most of all of you is no one has commented on the decline of the book cover from the 50's to the present. John Grisham covers anyone? The nineties were darker then some of the clunkers that were on the show last night! Finally, I love my cover and so do my new friends at Penguin. I would love to chat more on the subject. Come meet me. I will be signing copies of my design at the Vroman's: Wed, June 30th.