Busy type or busy picture!

March 27, 2007

What makes a better newsstands cover, a busy cover picture with limited cover lines, or a simple shot and multiple cover lines! Every month for the last two or so years the folks at Harper’s Bazaar have presented different cover shots of their stars with limited cover lines for subscribers and multiple ones, always with high numbers, for the single copy sales. Lately, however, the cover shots for the subscribers have become very busy rather than the straight model shot. Take for example the April issue covers of Reese Witherspoon. The cover includes busy and colorful typography for the single copy cover, yet limited typography, but a very busy picture for subscribers. Is it science or is it a gut feeling that editors try to follow? I for one believe there is no science to our business, no how to, just good editors making good gut decisions, and a lot of know-how. Although sometimes you wonder why editors make some of those decisions, like the one above. In any case, a gut decision in our magazine world beats the paralysis analysis status that we encounter in most cases. I will take the gut feeling approach to cover design every time hands down… An editor with the know-how attitude is ten times better than an editor with the how-to attitude. Creativity is the name of our game and change is the only constant in our business…true or false? In the coming days I will be showing examples from different magazines and how they design their covers for the single copy as opposed to their subscribers…any words of wisdom will be greatly appreciated.


One comment

  1. I was of the impression that the recent subscriber versions of the Bazaar covers were meant as a way of harking back to Bazaar’s design hertiage and the clean, uncluttered (and often very successful) cover designs of Alexey Brodovitch and Fabien Baron (http://nmca.boico.net/nmca_harpersbazaar_us.htm). It seems I was mistaken. Looks like they are hoping to emulate World of Interiors (that old dinosaur) or something. I’d love to know what the brief behind these covers is now, something weird is happeneing for sure.

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