Face Up: Boston
Issue: December 2008
Editor: James Burnett
Publishing Company: Metrocorp Holdings, Inc.
Art Director: Patrick Mitchell
According to newsstand consultants, a cover featuring âTop Docsâ is almost always a slam dunk for any city or regional publication. âThere is very little that you can do to screw it [sales] up,â says Bostonâs art director Patrick Mitchell. It was because of this sales confidence that after sifting through a plethora of other regional âTop Docsâ covers, Mitchell decided that the first rule in creating Bostonâs December cover would be to try to do something original with âTop Docs.â Cue giant prescription bottle.
Although prescription bottles have been done before, Mitchell is a big proponent of creating a cover that inspires readers to see something new upon second, third or fourth look that they hadnât noticed originally. He cites the little plastic doctor âpillsâ as one of these elements, with âshading to make them look 3Dâlike you could actually shake the bottle and hear them rattling around.â
One element that Mitchell may not have minded if readers missed the first, second or 10th time is Bostonâs âPhotoshop magicâ performed on the prescription bottle itself. âThere are actually no bottles the shape of our magazine cover,â says Mitchell. After an unsuccessful trip to CVS and soliciting the entire Boston staff for different-shaped bottles from home, Mitchell finally found a winner. The only problemâit was still too tall for the cover. To remedy this, the art team shortened the bottle by removing a section from the middle and reconstructing the label.
When asked about cover lines, Mitchell says that they âhad to be incorporated onto the prescription bottle label. When I do parody covers, I really like to take it all the way.â While bottom-half cover lines may have presented a problem for some city magazines, Boston has a full display, allowing them to take some liberties with otherwise strict newsstand guidelines.
Bostonâs December issue marks its last before the massive 2009 redesign, which Mitchell hopes will separate it from the pack of city magazines.
âThis cover is a very good concept that falls victim to mediocre execution, resulting in a clever presentation marred by some questionable design choices. The prescription label is too crowded, and the Top Docs sun graphic doesnât work in replacing the âo.â It also distracts from the well-crafted yellow highlighter effect on the label. Itâs a shame because with a little more restraint, Boston could have had a great cover.â
Jared Wade | Editor | Risk Management
âWhy would they stray from the opportunity to feature a local âeliteâ doctor instead to portray art that looks like it belongs on the cover of Time? The bottle is very well done, especially the text shadowing, the color scheme and the detailing. The labelâs headlines, especially âBuy 2 Copies...,â are brilliantly executed. Fundamentally, though, this cover misses the opportunity. Is it cheezy to put the doctor on the cover? Yup. But more than ever, isnât it appropriate to revisit what people like about city magazines, starting with the cover?â
Gregory Morey | Publisher | Florida Designers Review
âThis is a fresh approach to what can be a very boring annual listing. (Canât you hear the sales team asking for another stock photo of a stethoscope?) The faux label sparks interest, but is hard to read. Moving the second deck off of the label may have helped with readability and impact. Also, the Photoshop work needs a little refinement (tighter replication in the âpills,â a more subtle masthead shadow). A little polish would have made this good cover great!â
Rhana Castle l Art Director | Vance Publishing
Have a unique âcoverâ story? Contact FOLIO: Associate Editor Vanessa Voltolina.