March 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

So What’s with all the ‘People Covers’?: SLJ’s Art Director Explains the Method to Our Madness

We recently received some feedback from a subscriber who wrote to say, “I am often confused by your choice of covers. There are so many creative possibilities. Although photographs of notable people are interesting, they don’t necessarily serve as a great introduction to the latest issue.”

I was delighted that a reader was paying attention to the visual presentation of the magazine! My next reaction was agreement that perhaps we were skewing a little too much toward portrait covers lately. Then I thought this was a golden opportunity to share our cover strategy and some of my favorite recent covers.

In each month’s SLJ print magazine, one feature article gets chosen as the cover story. Figuring out how to represent this feature on the cover in a way that engages the reader, is a fun challenge—one that I look forward to each month.

No matter the topic, the goal of the cover is simply to encourage the reader to open the magazine. While our subscribers are most likely interested in the topic, the cover still has work to do. A compelling cover will be the difference between someone who intends to read the magazine and someone who actually reads it. When imagery and cover lines work together effectively, they do more than communicate information. The ideal is that the cover reaches deeper, connecting with the reader on an emotional level. Working with top illustrators and photographers, as we do, makes it all the more possible that we may end up with such a cover.

Here are some of my favorites from the past few years. Click through to view the image alone, and click once again for a larger version.