I often save or pin covers I come across which I feel are special or interesting in some way. Noticing a few trends emerging in my magazine travels, I thought it time I produced a gallery. Without further ado;
1. White Blocked Mastheads
This trend keeps growing and with its clean lines and simple sophistication this design tends to work well across many categories. One of the pioneers of this clean design is Kinfolk which has since seen a slew of magazine adopting a similar aesthetic. Why it works: it's simple and gives the masthead plenty of breathing space and allows strong imagery to shine. The Cons: Not featuring coverlines prominently assumes the casual buyer has time to browse or is motivated to find the table of contents. I do wonder if this trend continues whether all magazines will eventually look the same.
2. Cursive Coverlines and Flowing Fonts
Compared to the clean lines of the white blocked masthead, in the wrong hands cursive coverlines can look a little busy. Particularly popular with food and lifestyle magazines, covers featuring cursive coverlines and flowing fonts have been appearing more and more on the newsstand. One of the pioneers of this design is Esquire who have run several issues with freehand coverlines and illustrations. Why it works: it brings movement and excitement to the cover and draws the eye in. The Cons: if executed poorly the cover can appear messy or disorganised.
3. Food Art and Haute Cuisine
We are taught from a young age not to play with our food. However, this one rule several magazines are breaking has produced a delightful array of whimsical covers. Why it works: it's a creative, fun approach to what can sometimes be an overly serious subject and allows simple ingredients to be totally transformed in to works of art. The Cons: if done poorly it can come off as a little child-like and miss the mark with the audience.
4. Illustration and Digital Art
In today's digital world it seems there's a new appreciation for illustrated or digital cover art made to look hand drawn. Several magazines have adopted illustrated covers every issue with great success. Why it works: the uniqueness of illustrated covers sets them apart and art directors can be ultra specific about what they're communicating as the artwork is often custom made. The Cons: Commissioning covers can be expensive to produce every issue and like art, if the imagery is too obscure the message could be misinterpreted by the audience.
5. Handmade Paper Craft
Not unlike the illustration trend, paper craft is appearing more and more on magazine covers and as you'd expect, there are even magazines dedicated to the subject! While it may not translate well to all editorial, even more serious magazines like Time and New Scientist have successfully applied it in their art direction. Why it works: it takes vision, creativity and excellent execution to produce covers purely of paper to such a high standard. It's likely the audience has an appreciation for how painstakingly long these covers would take to make and the 3D element also brings a uniqueness to the overall look. The Cons: If the design is too simple the overall effect can appear one dimensional.
Fine Print Blog
Musings about magazines.
I'm a magazine sales and marketing consultant from Sydney, Australia.