This Month: National Defense

Issue: January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Launched: 1920 (as Army Ordinance)
1974 (as National Defense)
Editor: Sandra I. Erwin
Publisher: National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA)
Art Director: Brian Taylor

For its annual Defense Budget Forecast issue, National Defense art director Brian Taylor decided to go with a type-driven concept design for the cover. He played with a couple of other ideas including a collage of dollar amounts in the background or using a generic chart as a piece of art. “Since this was a general budget forecast issue covering all of the military services, a general iconic image was the best way to go,” says Taylor. Instead of using a traditional photograph of the Pentagon, Taylor decided to go for a stock art illustration of the building, bleeding the tip of it off the bottom of the page to symbolize the forecast prediction of a “downturn on the horizon.”

The masthead has been the same for about ten years. The black background of the cover is designed to “give the cover a sense of heaviness and make the headlines and artwork pop,” according to Taylor, but also caused bleeding on all sides during production. Taylor added a slight fade to the headline “Budget Wars,” in order to blend the type into the bold background.

“This cover is pretty close to a zero. The bold for the last half of the deck is pointless and distracting—it looks like a mistake rather than a device for emphasis. The old-style serif used for the deck doesn’t mesh particularly well with the Swiss modern headline either.”
-Jandos Rothstein, Governing Magazine

“Between the type, the logo and the art, there’s a lot of angles. The colors are strong. Black covers always open the palate to dramatic possibilities. The art doesn’t exactly say war, but that is just indicative of our politically correct times.”
-Donathan Salkaln, Successful Meetings Magazine

“Given who the audience is, National Defense magazine is appropriately powerful in its imagery, strong palette and weighty typographic usage.”
-Ina Saltz, Saltz Design

“The yellow type in the middle of the page is way too big. It can come down at least four point sizes. The headline, subhead and the image are all about the same size, reducing the drama that the cover could have. The white title makes this even worse by taking away from the impact of the ‘Star Wars’- style headline.”
-Robert Siel, Sumner Communications