Face Up: Audubon
Critiques of leading magazine covers.
Editor: Mark Jannot
Creative Director: Kevin Fisher
Publishing Company: National Audubon Society
Audubon “put a bird on it” decades before IFC’s Portlandia made the expression a funny meme. But for its latest cover, the 74-year old magazine for bird enthusiasts and conservationists went in a different direction.
Climate change is a hot-button topic, and a critical one for Audubon and its members. But visualizing climate change required thoughtfulness.
“We wanted to show the impact of climate change—not only to birds and wildlife, but to people and communities, like those on the Outer Banks in North Carolina,” says creative director, Kevin Fisher. “We typically use a bird photograph on our cover so this was an opportunity to tell the story from an entire community’s perspective.”
Fisher contracted photographer Greg Kahn to shoot the images for the feature story, but for the cover, photography director Sabine Meyer found this image and knew it was the one. Fisher says that the house in the photograph has stood in Kitty Hawk for twenty years and was once surrounded by houses, but the impacts of climate change has eroded the landscape and sent its neighbors crashing into the sea, thus symbolically illustrating the grave transformation of the habitat.
In terms of execution, Fisher admits the composition of the photograph did most of the heavy lifting. “This image was strong and I didn’t want to be playful,” he says. “[I took] a pretty straightforward approach to the coverlines, which I kept clean and simple.” He also says that only minor color corrections were necessary in the proofing stage, which still includes the use of a light box, as well calibrated monitors. Looking back now, Fisher jokes that he wishes there was a pelican sitting on the roof of the house.
Audubon is known for its beautiful photography, and this cover photo doesn’t disappoint.
I love how clean this cover is. It has one singular focus and lets you spend time on the details. The coverlines are newsstand-friendly, but not gregarious. The tall typeface is easily legible, which is not always the case.
The flag is very faint. I do think it stays out of the way of the artwork, but is also a bit lost. I also wonder if the ‘Outer Banks’ type could have been more integrated into the main cover line without loosing the punch of those few words? Overall, I love it.
– Suki Anderson / Art Director / Louisville
This cover is clean and elegant. It immediately demands my attention with its journalistic look and feel.
The minimal use of coverlines proves the importance of respecting the integrity of photography. The cover has a strong focal point with the pink house; yet your eye continues to travel upward, leading you to the top and softly introducing you to “Audubon.” Beautiful!
The black cover line seems a bit too heavy against the white logo. The delicate, thin rooflines work well this time, but their future success will only be determined by the kind of images that will allow this much space.
– Adana Jiménez / Creative Consultant / AdanaJimenez.com