Face Up: Utility Automation and Engineering T&D
Issue: February 2009
Production Editor: Deanna Taylor
Publishing Company: PennWell Corporation
Senior Editor: Kathleen Davis
The plight of heavily technical trade magazines, like Utility Automation and Engineering T&D, is for publishers to design relevantâand rivetingâcover art for a highly-specific and complex subject matter. Senior editor, Kathleen Davis, was hoping to go more minimalist for the February cover of the electric industry publication. In her mind, the ideal angle for T&Dâs early 2009 redesign would be more minimalist cover concepts, similar to Wiredâs May 2008 issue, âInconvenient Truths.â
While Davis didnât get her wish, exactly, what developed was a more abstract take on the delivery side of powerâin this case, a mix of meters and abstract artâand a more structural and elemental look of utility automation. âThe illustrated elements represent a connection to the grid like on a mother board you would find in the meters,â says Utility Automation and Engineering T&D presentation editor, Deanna Taylor.
The issueâs cover story featured an interview with a big name in the electric industry and power world, Glenn English, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Incorporating the cover lines into these branches made sense âbecause the cover was so intricate, when we did this it looked better than listing them down the left side like weâd normally do,â says Davis. The green-blue color scheme for the issueâs background and meter branches were meant to represent rural cooperatives and growth of the electric cooperative, T&D says.
When the cover line, âGlenn English Talks Machinations, Meters, & MultiSpeak,â gave way to the current, âInterview with the NRECAâs Glenn English,â the meter tree and abstract design were left hanging. âI can see how now this can be kind of a disconnect,â says Davis. âMy compromise is that I still think itâs a bit busy.â
âI like the collage of the photographs of meters with the background resembling electronic wiring. Considering that this is a very technologically advanced readership, the cover should reflect that and look more futuristicâit seems to represent the technology of the â80s. Wired would push that concept most likely to its maximum coolness. While I like a contrast between coverline sizes in general, the small coverlines are in all caps, making them even harder to read. The logo of Utility/T&D might benefit from an updated type design, especially the ampersand solution between the T&D. The cover should visually address the new generation of technology experts, and somehow this one looks as if it is for an older readership.â
Petra Kobayashi | Art Director | Self
âThe circular photos of technical equipment create a harmony with the layers of lines as if to whisper, âthis is complicated stuff, but fun, too.â The headline âInterview with the NCRECAâs Glenn Englishâ seems disconnected from this playful feeling, both in its content and its quotidian typography. It makes the reader scan the cover more closely to see if a sub-headline has more relation to the cover image. (To a layperson, it seems âSuccess in Substation Controlâ would fit the lines and curves better.) However, the text is readable and effectively offset from the 45-degree angle of the curves, and is supported by all-cap sub-headlines.â
Jeremy Leff | Art Director | Roast
Have a unique âcoverâ story? Contact FOLIO: Associate Editor Vanessa Voltolina.