5 Year Print Market Review 2023

Let The Bastards Cheer You Up

Instantly recognisable as one of Harland Miller’s iconic Penguin classics works, begun in 2001, the title of this series plays on the old saying “Don’t let the bastards get you down”. While triggering a ring of familiarity, Miller's edit is deliberately provocative and in keeping with his wit.

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Meaning & Analysis

First produced as a watercolour and screenprint in 2009, Don’t Let the Bastards Cheer you up epitomises Miller’s wittier takes on well-known phrases. Instantly recognisable as one of his Penguin Jackets, (first produced in 2001) Don’t Let The Bastards Cheer You Up triggers a ring of familiarity whilst being deliberately provocative. When asked where the titles from his books originate from, Miller says “nowhere in particular. Everywhere, anywhere.”

“I realised that the design of those classics would throw all the focus on the title of the book, which is exactly what I wanted to do.(…) People are so used to the format already with the text in the middle that you could really say whatever you wanted.”

In terms of their artistic style, the Penguin prints are influenced by both Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism, infused with the conceptual aspect of the written word. Miller is interested in Pop Art’s ideas of challenging authenticity and overriding authorship, as we see in this work which features Miller as the author.

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