Face Up: Bicycling
Issue: June 2011
Frequency: 11x a year (combines Jan/Feb issues)
Publishing Company: Rodale
Since Peter Flax arrived at Bicycling last summer, a redesign has been top of mind for the new editor-in-chief. Bicycling celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and the June relaunch of the magazine marks “a significant rebirth of the brand,” according to Flax.
David Speranza, who has been with Bicycling for nine years, serves as the magazine’s design director. When reflecting on the updated cover, Speranza sees the art as a shift for the publication’s philosophy. The cover image was taken during a four-mile loop with the four cyclists pictured riding at 20 to 25 miles per hour. Traditionally, cyclists had been pictured in motion, but they were required to hit predetermined marks. This time, the cyclists were given no such instruction.
Speranza says of the gatefold cover, “It shows up in the image; you see more blur, these guys are actually riding. When Peter first came in, that’s the big thing that he wanted to see: the actual experience through photography. That was our first stab at it.”
Bicycling’s logo also changed with the June cover. In order not to compete with the logo, locations with low horizons have become the trademark look of the publication.
By incorporating a new box treatment around the logo, Speranza sees a versatility to the cover not previously available. “In order to not crop into the old logo, we’d have to run the bikes smaller than we prefer and get a perspective we didn’t want. With this box, we noticed we could start to do more aggressive bike placement on the cover.”
Speranza cited the European mentors of his professional upbringing as a direct influence to the “European aesthetic” of the typography. Copy will remain largely in black and white, with the color tints used sparingly.
With this sensibility in mind, Speranza hopes to marry this European touch with a bit of Americana. “We’re trying to balance those two aesthetics going forward,” he says.
“Several redesign elements are visible throughout the cover, including the new magazine nameplate and flip-open cover, which engage the reader from the start. The photo selection is spot on with the magazine’s focus as it creates the illusion of motion in a two dimensional space, while maintaining awareness of the type placement integrating into the composition. Serif and sans serif fonts contrast nicely throughout the cover and highlight the clever headlines of the feature articles. One caveat worth noting is the overall cover design does seem text-heavy, a good design reminder that ‘less is more.’”
Debra Woodfork, Production and Design Manager, Association of Corporate Counsel
“When I look at covers, I tend to automatically do a five second redesign in my head. As my eyes dart around this particular cover, bouncing between image and type, I see a great photograph and a lost opportunity. This is primarily the result of a scale and cropping issue. If the cyclist on the right in white was enlarged enough to take up nearly the entire front cover, it would greatly increase the energy level and impact overall. The gatefold portion of the image would also benefit from being made larger as it is a bit hollow now. The image, even when imagined much larger, is currently being overwhelmed by the main cover line. The full width, all caps, loosely kerned type treatment could have more punch if set smaller, tighter and in a heavier weight. I found myself looking through it instead of reading it. The film festival award-like treatment of the secondary heads serves as a nice graphic cue to a vetted line-up. It might have been nice to push it even further in that direction to help emphasize that this is a special issue. Overall, this cover has some excellent ingredients, but does not deliver on a level that matches the promise of the cover line.”
Chalkley Calderwood, Art Director, Every Day with Rachael Ray
Have a unique “cover” story? Contact associate editor Stefanie Botelho at firstname.lastname@example.org.