George Orwell: Down and out in Paris and London | Skillshare Projects

Radmila Zelic Josimov

designer & illustrator



George Orwell: Down and out in Paris and London


I recently read this piece by George Orwell and decided to make it my project and illustrate letter O. The book is following main character through his downfall into world of poverty in the two cities. The overall impression of filth and hunger and a quietly endured desperation is present throughout the book.

After initial brainstorming I came up with three directions, translated into sketches:


  1. Penny on an empty plate (it's not obvious from the sketch but the circle is the plate :). It symbolizes hunger and dependence on as little as several coins and constant absence of money for decent meal. Bed bug is also present as symbol of filth - in the book they are present in hotels rooms and other venues and shelters for tramps

  2. This one should be statement of modern day slavery where money has become ultimate test of virtue. Story about man domination over another man, exploitation of human work and class differences, marginalization of people who reached poverty, and left with nothing but their clothes, faced with prejudice and with no way out of this state they are in.

  3. This one should be graphical expression of class differences with elegance and glow of the rich, while there is world of poverty, filth and misery at the bottom,often disregarded and considered contemptible by the majority of society. The cigarette butt is taken from the part in London, where tramps in lowest level of poverty, search and collect butts from the streets for smoke. The inspiration for this version was especially scene while our character was working as plongeur in a hotel in Paris, where on one side were workers in underground maze of hot narrow rooms, working eighteen hours a day, almost without a break just to serve the rich on the other side.

For further design I chose option no 3. and started vectoring in Illustrator.



And here it is - the finished piece, with some brush touches done in Photoshop.



I decided to work on option 2 also, and experiment with several different approaches. After several sketches I decided to try ink on paper that would give a bit edgier cover and go well with book theme.


On final version I draw oulines of chain shape, to soften it a bit.




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