2012 NMAs: Magazine Covers

In magazines, the writers write, the editors edit, the art directors do stuff with pictures and keep editors from going crazy with too many words, and the circulators…circulate? Whatever they do, it is a dark and mysterious art whose importance I don’t question. I just don’t understand it. As a special treat, below is some insight into the magazine covers category from a circulator, Amanda Beattie of Cottage Life Media Inc., which will give you peek at that dark art.

First up, Urbania with “Bébés” [.pdf of cover]. Dolls freaked me out as a child. Actually, they still do. Next.

With Vancouver Magazine’s October 2011 cover [.pdf of cover], the art and editorial departments seem to have taken note of what circulators want. The “101 Things to Taste” cover line jumps off the page with clear benefit to the potential reader. There’s great use of cover lines that draw the eye. Also, there’s great use of the real estate above the logo (key if the magazine gets hidden in the back of the newsstand) and along both sides, which is really helpful when the publication is fanned in promo pieces. I’ve never seen the UPC placed so high, but it really works here. Will it win? I doubt it. Would I like to high-five this art director? Yes. Yes I would.

Next up, the Toronto Life October 2011 cover [.pdf of cover]. Who wouldn’t like a cover that calls Tim Hudak a backstabber? The subtle use of a sideways glance for eye contact rather than face-on beautifully drives home the idea that you just can’t trust this guy. Verdict: I don’t think this will win but it’s still a great cover.

I like the way they have styled the cover lines on the enRoute “Earn Your Stripes on Canada’s Wildest Slopes” cover [.pdf of cover]. It reminds me of a luggage tag. Covering the face of the skier is fun but you lose the opportunity for eye contact. Again, not my pick to win.

Now for The Grid versus The Grid. “Got Spunk?” [.pdf of cover] is fun but “Beyond Gay” [.pdf of cover] is the better of the two covers. I love the various facial expressions and the cover line grabs you immediately. The elephant in the room is that some people see The Grid more as a news weekly than a magazine and that may work against them.

This Magazine 45th Anniversary Special is cuckoo bananas [.pdf of cover]. That is all.

OK, I’ll say it: I didn’t want to like The Walrus “The Future of Food” cover because they always win—a lot. Then I opened the .pdf and damn it! It’s good. I don’t usually like illustrated covers but I think this is in the top three of the category. They have managed to strike the balance between a strong illustration and cover lines that captivate but don’t overpower. Would I be surprised if they win? Guys, it’s The Walrus.

Also, in my top three to win it is Canadian Business with “BlackBerry is Toast: A Toast to BlackBerry” [.pdf of cover]. This photo grabs you. Great use of cover lines to tie it all together. Clean. Simple. Awesome.

Finally, there is Report on Business with “Mallett” [.pdf of cover]. Not everyone will agree with me but this is my pick for the win. Outstanding art direction. The tone-on-tone colour scheme works with the wardrobe choice. The ball only partially obscures Jeff Mallett’s face, while he still maintains eye contact. Having the “ball in the air” symbolism doesn’t feel forced either. The use of numbers is a bit unusual, drawing a lot of attention to the page numbers, but it works. The cover lines to appeal to multiple audiences. I could go on and on.

Final verdict: the top three are Canadian Business, Report on Business and The Walrus. The wildcard is The Grid’s “Beyond Gay.” Granted, I may be totally wrong. Few things are more subjective than a cover.

Amanda Beattie

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