Face Up: SCMagazine
Issue: July 2010
Publishing Company: Haymarket Media Inc.
Art Director: Brian Jackson
For Art Director Brian Jackson, the challenge of putting together a great cover for SCMagazine every month isn’t brainstorming new layouts or dreaming up extraordinary concepts. Jackson emphasizes the importance of a cover that delivers the goods right away with no beating around the bush. “Most of our readers are high-level IT men and women, and they don’t have a lot of time to read,” he says. “We try to keep the magazine cover clean and direct, so people can pull from it what they want. We always want the cover of SC to be consistent.”
Consequently, from month-to-month every cover of SCMagazine combines the elements of a white backdrop, a full-body photograph of the cover subject on the right, and a row of products splashed across the top.
Last month, the American Society of Business Publication Editors named SCMagazine “Magazine Of The Year” in the category for publications with revenues of less than $2 million. The clean nature of the cover paid off: SCMagazine came through in its category thanks to its “clean design” and “well organized layout,” with one judge praising the magazine’s ability to “get the job done.”
But keeping the cover simple and consistent doesn’t mean the design process has to be mechanical. For the July issue, Jackson photographed Guy Buzzelli, CIO of the City of Delray Beach, FL, and was pleasantly surprised with the creativity of the photoshoot.
“When I set up a shoot, it’s usually kind of a challenge because the subject doesn’t always have a lot of time,” he says. “With Guy, we had a little more time, so the shoot was a lot of fun, but in the end we know he’s going to be on the right hand side of the cover. So, do we want him standing straight or facing in? Do we want him holding a product? Cutting into the headline? There’s creativity in little things like that.”
Another mainstay is the row of reviewed products stamped on top of the cover. “We’re well known for our vigorous product testing so these are usually what we want people to see the most,” says Jackson. “I try to put the better products on the cover, along with the page number, so readers can find them quickly.”
“This cover has lots of potential and good bones. The masthead logo is a strong and compact graphic element that really stands out and the typeface establishes a distinct personality for the brand. The cover looks a bit incomplete though. It is top-heavy with content and images, leaving the bottom empty. While I usually love white space, it’s not used effectively here.
The design appears to be templated and locked-in. It would be helpful to have some flexibility to move copy to fit the photo placement and fill some of empty space at the bottom of the page. What would happen if the feature copy block was moved down to the bottom to fill the negative space better? I think that would balance everything out. It would let the photo breathe and could tuck nicely under the laptop instead of running into it.”
Stacy Vickroy, Art Director, Wise Group
“SC has taken a ‘keep it simple’ formula to the extreme, and the result leaves me cold. The red block initial logo on stark white background reminds me of PC Magazine where I used to work. The big difference is PC always had a cover concept with compelling images and inventive typography. The ‘real people’ photo should work harder to be interesting. He should be wearing a VR headset not holding a PC. Repeating this formula on every issue is uninspired.”
Bryan Canniff, Bryan Canniff Designs
Have a unique “cover” story? Contact executive editor Matt Kinsman at email@example.com.