Face Up: Christianity Today
A March 2008 cover "comes close to being great."
Issue: March 2008
Editor: David Neff/Mark Galli
Publishing Company: Christianity Today International
Design Director: Gary Gnidovic
The choice of an apple was not as simple as the average person might think for Christianity Today to represent its cover subject—sexual addiction in males.
The half-eaten, rotting apple, according to design director Gary Gnidovic, was a simple and stark way to “suggest that something originally meant for good—the sexual relationship—has been distorted and used up through inappropriate over-consumption,” he says. “I wanted to avoid another man-in-a-dark-room-with-computer image, or really anything showing a human face, to avoid stereotypes.”
But Gnidovic and senior managing editor Mark Galli were concerned that readers would interpret the image theologically instead of culturally. Theologically, the fruit represents something bigger—“the temptation for man to think he can make it on his own apart from God,” Gnidovic says. “But in popular culture, the symbol of the apple tends to be about sexual temptation.”
Galli was also concerned with the way the cover line breaks, with the apple—which alludes to the concept of “original sin.” “The article itself spends a lot of time showing how addictive sexual behavior is not just a moral or spiritual problem but has medical, biological and psychological dimensions,” says Galli. “So I didn’t want to imply the opposite of what the article was arguing.”
Galli says the image struck him as clear and simpler, something valuable for a magazine cover. Found through Getty Images’ The Image Bank, the image was repeated in a small version throughout the article.
The white background, used on almost half the title’s covers, was an easy choice. The white background helps mitigate what Gnidovic calls the “intrusive” large white address box required on all subscriber covers. Because it is used to often, the magazine has gone up one weight in cover stock to avoid show-through.
“This cover is very close to being great. Unfortunately, in this design, every element on the cover carries the same visual weight and thus steals the overall conceptual impact from the roughly torn and browning apple. I would like to see the apple dominate the cover and be even a bit more rotten to the point where you can see all the detail of its disintegration. Hit the reader with the message hard and do not give them an abundance of white space to get comfortable around the image.”
Winslow Taft | Senior Art Director | mental_floss magazine
“While the image commands attention, it loses some edge with poorly positioned typography. All of the centered-but-not-quite text creates an awkward asymmetry and imbalanced open space. Though the simple, isolated form works, it would have been better served atop a darker, moodier backdrop.”
Natasha Fletcher | Art Director | Wise Group
“I like the cover. It definitely grabs the reader’s attention with the stark image of the apple and the word “Sex” in bright red, and I like the color palette. I am glad they chose a slightly rotting apple which I think speaks multitudes about how the church might possibly feel about about sex addiction. I would have liked to see a better cut-out on the stem of the apple—the top is funky looking.”
Debbie Silliman Wolfe | Art Director | Virgo Publishing
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