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Face Up: Harper

Linda Zebian By

Concept: Harper’s May 2006 cover story was about the potential dangers surrounding the U.S. housing bubble. So art director Stacey D. Clarkson imagined that when the bubble burst, people would be trapped with their large mortgages. In April, Clarkson found Aperture Foundation’s new monograph of the work of Dutch painter/photographer, Teun Hocks, which contained a portrait of a man hiking while carrying a house on his back. “I like the cover images to be philosophical,” says Clarkson. “It’s not illustrating exactly what the story inside is saying.”

Production: Clarkson contacted Aperture Foundation to get permission to publish the image, which made arrangements with Hocks. The artwork was cropped for the cover. The original image is vertical, while the traditional layout of the cover provides a horizontal box for art. In order to make it fit, the house had to extend out of the top of the box, covering part of the logo. The color separator had to silo the roof and drop out the background behind it, as the original image shows more background, as well as the man’s feet, which had to be cropped out. As with every cover image, Harper’s features the full image on the table of contents.

Our design panel says: “Great Harper’s classic cover design with a twist. Love it. Shows confidence in the book and subject matter…This is ignoring a lot of tiresome conventional wisdom in service to a strong idea: the colors border on the bleak, the image is whimsical yet poignant, and there’s value in the details—the pots and pans are a nice touch…A great illustration shows the message better than words can explain it. A great cover allows the illustration to do its work…The combined cover/contents page steals some of the thunder. This art deserves its own full page…”

The Panel: Charles Brucaliere, Forbes; Jandos Rothstein, Governing Magazine; Chuck Green,; Dan Zeis, Fleet Owner Have a unique “cover” story? Contact Folio: assistant editor Linda Zebian at

Linda Zebian By

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