Face Up: How
This Month: How
Concept: Every other month, art director Tricia Bateman and the How staff have the challenging task of creating a cover that incorporates a domineering 5.5”x 7.75” How logo. For the graphic design magazine’s annual business issue, Bateman wanted a cover that reflected the unique business models of the eight design firms profiled inside. After the phrase “breaking the mold” was thrown around at the planning meeting, Bateman created a thumbnail image of the How logo as a concrete image with a wrecking ball coming at it.
After an editor pointed out the destructive nature of the image, Bateman began thinking of a way to build the logo out of bricks, leading her to an unlikely place: The toy store. It was in the toy train model section where she came up with the idea to photograph a model of a brick building using the windows for the logo.
“It was kind of a progression into the idea of breaking the mold into a more positive version of the same idea,” says Bateman. “It also gave us the ability to talk about the model design firms and pun on that a little bit.”
Production: Bateman, along with photographer Hal Barkan, scoured the toy store and bought a bunch of train model parts to piece together the image to photograph. Together, the pair spent over two days setting up for the photo shoot. In actuality, the model was significantly smaller than it appears on the cover. The “W” in the logo was the most challenging aspect, according to Bateman, who said she used Photoshop to create the interior windows. Other than that, the rest of the image was built by hand. Photoshop was used to erase sporadic glue strands while areas of the foreground were lightened and darkened to accommodate coverlines, a subscription label and bar code. As for the conspicuous black cross-bar in the “H”: “It’s built into the cover design,” says Barkan. “It wraps around the spine so no matter what illustration or photo is used on the cover, it’s in the same place every time.”
Our design panel says: “This cover of How is a treat. It’s an engaging image from a visually dry subject matter—business. The pun on ‘model’ is fun and small scale models are always seductive. Making the logo out of the windows is nicely resolved. It’s ambitious and successful. It has impact from a distance and continues to hold your interest as you get closer… The How “Model Design Firm” cover seems very much in the Absolut Vodka school of design—the integration of identity into the picture has rich possibilities, and magazines have largely fallen out of the habit of playing with that. How has, in the past, been very good at working their enormous logo into the design of the cover so that it still has presence, but doesn’t overwhelm the image. I think that’s going on successfully here as well. I really like the texture and details—it really invites the reader to dwell on the image, which is rare for covers, and the elegant and understated typography is letting the image do most of the job of telling the story, which is also a refreshing change. In balance this is a winning if not a perfect cover… At first glance I think it is a strong image. What bothers my eye is the small black rectangle at the top poking into the magazine. Also the subheads below seem oddly placed or just tossed in there. It leaves me with the feeling of how do I fit all this in versus good design…”
The Panel: Luke Hayman, Design Director, New York Magazine; Jandos Rothstein, Design Director, Governing; Jeff Clapp, Group Creative Director, Group C Communications.
Have a unique “cover” story? Contact Folio: assistant editor Linda Zebian.