"Barn Burning" by William Faulkner | Skillshare Projects



"Barn Burning" by William Faulkner

Here are the two designs I've decided on as my favorites, but read through for more info and let me know what you think!

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About the Story:

For this project, I asked a friend to recommend a short story to me that I had never read. She told me to check out "Barn Burning" by William Faulkner. I've read some of Faulkner's novels but never one of his shorts, so I was up to the challenge.

You can read the story online here

Told from the perspective of a ten-year-old boy, Colonel Sartoris Snopes, the youngest of a poor, sharecropping family in post-Civil War South, it begins in a courtroom where his father is being accused of burning down the barn of the man he worked for. Found not guilty due to lack of evidence, the family is forced to move to a new town where they take on another sharecropping job. Seeing his father burn down his bosses' barns and having to lie about it is a common occurrence in Sartoris's life, and the story focuses on him coming of age and beginning to question the morality of his father's actions, eventually having to choose between family and what is right. 

For my cover, I didn't want to just show an image of a barn burning, because that is already made obvious by the title, so I looked for other imagery to intimate what happens in the story and apply the context. While reading the story, I mainly thought about the family's situation, in that they are forced into a life of constant subsistence moving from house to house. The theme of physical movement as opposed to movement up the societal ladder stuck out in my mind, as did this intense anger that the father has toward the wealthy class. This is all through the eyes of the youngest child Sartoris who witnesses everything and questions all of his father's actions. 

This is probably the cleanest page in my sketchbook, so I'm happy to share it. Hopefully my handwriting is legible.


For this first cover, I found this great image of a sharecropper father with his son standing off to the side. The original image has a light-hearted quality to it in the way that the father is putting his hand on his hip, so I flipped it around and cropped it to hopefully make it seem a bit more sinister and ambiguous. 


For my second cover, a chain of events is set off by the father ruining an expensive French rug owned by the new family he has come to work for. First he wipes manure on it when he first enters their house, and then when told to clean it, his daughters have little success, and he resorts to just taking a stone and basically tearing it apart. Thus, for this cover, I found an image of a French rug and changed the saturation of it to make it look more like the one described in the story. Then I tore it apart and placed the title text inside. The destruction of the rug in the story is representative of the father's anger at a society that he feels has wronged him and his tendency for revenge. 



Here are two updated covers that I made. I decided to take into account all the suggestions to add color. I chose a very deep color red. A main theme in the story is loyalty to one’s own blood. At one point in the story, the father confronts his son and advises him to never turn on his own family. In addition to the blood references, I wanted the color of the text in the rug cover to be fairly subtle. I used an Inner Glow effect to vaguely give the illusion of smoldering flames.



I have another concept that I still would like to make. I had worked a lot with the title text and tried to give it the illusion of being made of ash, but it just never met my expectations. I’m going to remake this idea but make a wagon wheel out of ash. The family is constantly forced to move from place to place because of the father’s actions, so I wanted to make this connection. 

Thank you for all of your suggestions! 


Just wanted to post one more idea. Because the family is constantly forced to move around via their wagon due to the father's vengeful ways, I decided to make a cover that reflected this destruction that he constantly causes. The connection with the wagon wheel of ash reflects not only the damage he does to the property of the men he works for but also the emotional toll it causes to his family. The red color again intimates the color of blood and fire. 


I was concerned that this might appear too nautical though as it somewhat resembles a ship's wheel, so I made another one using two wheels in a more interesting way:



I took into account adding floorboards beneath the rug and added a little more shadow to make it look scorched. Thank you everyone for your comments and critiques! 



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