Face Up: The American Lawyer
Issue: March 2012
Publishing Company: ALM Media Properties, LLC
Design Director: Joan Ferrell
Editor: Robin Sparkman
Design director Joan Ferrell started out with âClass Warfareâ in mind for the March issue of The American Lawyer.
That was the working title at least, as the magazine planned its cover story around generous pension plans that are causing a rift between older, retiring partners on the receiving end, and younger, still-working partners forced to up their contributions in a bad economy.
By pairing the cover with the featureâs opening spread, Ferrell, along with Texas-based conceptual photographer Fredrik Broden, portrayed the growing generational divide.
âWe came up with a dual approach to the story,â she says. âThe older partnersâ point of view for the cover image and the younger partnersâ for the opening spread illustrations, in effect, a matched pair of images.â
On the cover, the archetypal established partner sits comfortably in his leather club chair at the close of a distinguished career, Ferrell says. But while he is the larger, centered image, itâs the smoke rings that draw the eye.
âThe smoke dollar sign tells the real story,â Ferrell says. âOn every level, itâs all about the money.â
The matching interior image shows a younger partner bound to a ball-and-chain against a stolid gray backdrop, a physical symbol of the pension burden he now bears.
Ferrell and Broden often pair up for photographic covers. Working remotely, the two discuss themes and develop a detailed art brief before coming up with an approach.
âFredrikâs work is compatible with my sensibility in every way and I have complete trust in him,â she says.Â âThis particular story was more complex than most because of the dual nature and because we werenât exactly sure at the outset which side of the story we would present on the cover. It was a difficult choice, but in the end we felt we made the right selection.â
âMy first reaction was, âNot more smoke turning into an image in the air!â It is not a particularly sophisticated or fresh solution to that particular problem, but those heavily metaphorical cover illustrations are a bear to do over and over. That said, the logo could have been a contrasting color to give it a little depth, and hierarchical separation. Too much of that cream color can get a little ârich.ââ
Helene Silverman, art director, Architectural Record
âThis is a tough cover to critique since it speaks to such a specific audience. I find the message a little difficult to âreadâ quickly. I like the idea of the rich older lawyer sitting with his back turned but maybe thereâs a way to make him even more sinister. The monochromatic feel is cool, but I would like to see some separation between the color of the logo and that of the main headline. The white type at the bottom accomplishes this but that treatment might work better for the main headline, deck and byline.â
Darin Johnson, creative director, Car and Driver
Have a unique âcoverâ story? Contact associate editor T.J. Raphael at email@example.com.