todd alcott’s repurposed quotes and old images *

Estimated reading time is 2 minutes.

OPEN CULTURE bills itself as “the best free cultural and educational media on the web.” They have recently published two pages where artist Todd Alcott uses his computer and his love for old magazines and paperbacks to create “new’ cover designs that look like old magazines and paperbacks.

The point of this article is to turn you on to Open Culture and especially to Alcott’s fabulous images. So the rest of the text between the two images indented below is lifted from the two articles:


DavidBowie YoungAmericans paperback 500

BobDylan JustLikeAWoman paperback 500

Top: The first Open Culture page featuring Todd Alcott’s creations is “Songs by David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads & More Re-Imagined as Pulp Fiction Book Covers.” Bottom: The second Open Culture page devoted to Todd Alcott is “Classic Songs by Bob Dylan Re-Imagined as Pulp Fiction Book Covers: Like a Rolling Stone, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall & More.”

Discarded pieces of culture

“[Todd Alcott has] quite a knack for extracting lyrics from their original context and rendering them in the period font, magically retooling them as the sort of suggestive quotes that once beckoned from drugstore book racks.

While Alcott discovers many of his visuals online, he has a soft spot for the battered originals he finds in second-hand shops. Their wear and tear confer the sort of verisimilitude he seeks. The rest is equal parts inspiration, Photoshop, and a growing understanding of a design form he once dismissed as the tawdry fruit of Low Culture:

‘I’d never understood pulp design until I started this project. As I started looking at it, I realized that the aesthetic of pulp is so deeply attached to its product that it’s impossible to separate the two. And that’s what great design is, a graphic representation of ideas.

Bob Dylan is the perfect subject for this project because his work has always been all about quotation and repurposing. From the very beginning, he took old songs, changed the lyrics and called them his own. And it’s not just the melodies, he’s also not shy about lifting phrases and whole lines from other sources.


The aesthetic of “pulp” is so deeply attached to its product that it’s impossible to separate the two.


One of the fun things about being a Bob Dylan fan is being able to spot the influences. It’s not just lifting lines from classic blues songs, where we don’t really know who ‘wrote’ the originals, it’s real, identifiable, copyright-protected material. And you never know where it’s going to come from—a book about the Yakuza from Japan, a cookbook, an old Time Magazine article, or 1940s noir pictures.

So for my Dylan covers, I try to carry on that tradition of taking quotes and repurposing them. So Just Like a Woman becomes a story in a science-fiction pulp, and Like a Rolling Stone becomes an expose on juvenile delinquency, and Rainy Day Women becomes a post-apocalyptic adventure story.

In a way, it’s what this project is all about, taking discarded pieces of culture and sticking them back together with new references to make them breathe again.’ ”

The aesthetic of pulp is so deeply attached to its product that it’s impossible to separate the two. Click To Tweet

BobDylan 1966 Australia Feinstein 1000

FEATURED IMAGE: Bob Dylan at the Bristol Ferry in Australia on his tour with the Hawks in 1966. Photo by Barry Feinstein.


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