Face Up: W
Issue: October 2011
Publisher: Conde Nast
Art Director: Alex Gonzalez
Editor-in-Chief: Stefano Tonchi
"The elections are coming up, and important men are behaving very badly,” says W creative director Alex Gonzalez. “The brouhaha over [Dominique Strauss-] Kahn and the relations of some sort with a chamber maid, Anthony Weiner…we’re taking off from reality.”
At a time when political figures provide as much tabloid fodder as screen stars do, W Magazine uses its October cover as a platform for both in-book contents and irony. The cover features singer/actor Justin Timberlake in president-ready garb, alongside First Lady-coiffed actress Amanda Seyfried, with an American flag as backdrop. “We thought, ‘what if the youngest president was to get into power and didn’t behave well?’’’ says Gonzalez.
Outside inspiration was sourced from films “All The President’s Men” (originally a non-fiction work by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein) and “The Manchurian Candidate” (another film adaptation of a novel, penned by Richard Condon), as well as the Kennedy family.
Fonts, though chosen for an elegant feel, were also selected as to not detract from the main art in the cover treatment. “I’m one of the art directors that is all about the image. I love typography, but it’s at the surface of the editorial content and the pictorial,” says Gonzalez.
Working alongside design director Joseph Logan, Gonzalez played off the horizontal striping of the American flag with the strong diagonals seen in copy.
Of his work at W (he’s been with the publication for five months), Gonzalez says, “I hope to surprise…my whole intent is to titillate from month to month.”
“I have two words for W’s October issue: American, sophistication. The cover oozes with a vintage Madmen-esque coolness that draws you in with a photo that starts to reveal an intriguing backstory. A political and patriotic theme is one that I feel will not only appeal to W’s traditional audience but may bring others in that they would not typically reach. The palette on the cover is rich and bold, and reinforces the patriotic and high elegance of the visual theme. The use of gold elevates the overall importance of this cover. I also find that the all cap, thinly weighted and tightly set typography and positioning of cover lines add to the visual sophistication of the design. The only area that I found on this particular cover to be lacking was the W logo gets lost in the busy background of the flag. Overall, I feel that the cover of W ’s October issue will standout a draw readers in with its alluring photography and well thought out and superbly executed typography.”
Michael Kline, Design Director, AOPA Media
“The presidential theme is pulled off nicely with the JFK-era style and subtle touches like the wedding ring on Justin’s finger. Considering how busy the image is, it’s simply amazing that the type actually reads in just about every area of the cover. The top tag line is a bit difficult, but that’s certainly the first line you can afford to take a chance on. The two Serif lines give a good separation from the main lines and the placement of the four sub lines along the left-hand side was perfectly done considering the challenges of the background. If I must nit pick, I find it a little odd to leave the bottom of the flag at the bottom of the cover and not have the last red stripe bleed off the edge. Perhaps this had something to do with keeping his right hand in the frame, but at a minimum I would have aligned the last red line based on all the other refinement the cover has. Suffice it to say, this is a near-perfect cover. I’d have an easier time critiquing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.”
Darin Johnson, Creative Director, Car and Driver
Have a unique “cover” story? Contact associate editor Stefanie Botelho at email@example.com.