There were several great covers in the month of May but we wanted to find a handful that embody either political relevancy, an eye towards summer or fun, engaging design.
Our five industry design pros weighed in and the results were positive. Here they are in no particular order.
Publishing Company: Time Inc.
Issue: May 25
Editor: Nancy Gibbs
Design Director: D.W. Pine
Why It Matters: Marijuana legislation has become a mainstream debate, and the topic is finding its way on several magazine covers.
The Good: This cover takes a serious issue and makes it funny—par for the course when speaking about marijuana. The coverline is intriguing and the bold-face portion stands out well. The mouse image is clever and well composed within the space. The smoke around the brand flag is well executed. It fits well within the brand's design aesthetic.
The Bad: The superimposed elements—the lighter and joint—could have been integrated in a touch better. Also, "The idea itself is a bit derivative," says one critic.
Cover Grade: B+
Title: Better Homes and Gardens
Publishing Company: Meredith Corp.
Editor: Gayle Butler
Creative Director: Shana Hale
Why it matters: Summer is coming!
The Good: This cover screams summer. The perspective is a welcome change from typically seeing food from a bird's eye view. The color schema is extremely eye-catching. Excellent headline, that should capture attention on the newsstand—especially for anyone who sees it at the grocery store.
The Bad: The coverlines on the bottom left seem as if they were placed last-minute, and they don't add anything to the bright, captivating image and headline. The idea of summer fun and 101 easy party ideas could be played up more with better font sizing or selection.
Cover Grade: B-
Title: Our State
Editor: Elizabeth Hudson
Art Director: Joseph Edwards
Why it matters: Summer is a time for travel, and North Carolina is a destination hot spot. There is also a great deal of nostalgia for trains in the U.S.
The Good: The photograph is excellent, for sure. The headline has intrigue and invites a reader to the feature story. The headline font is also on point, given it's classic feel and the topic it's connected to.
The Bad: While the photograph is captivating, it's not necessarily "cover worthy." We only see a small piece of the train, and the human subjects are incongruous with the topic (and the color match between the brand flag and the woman's dress was not well received by the critics). It's possible that the large brand flag and headline in the upper half of the cover are doing the image an injustice, or perhaps a longer shot of the tain would have been better.
Cover Grade: C+
Title: Foreign Affairs
Publishing Company: Council on Foreign Affairs Inc.
Creative Director: Gideon Rose
Contributing Illustrator: Juan Esteban Rodriguez
Why it matters: China's emerging society and culture is not a new story, but it's still extremely relevant and important.
The Good: Excellent illustration use, and the headline says more than enough. The roofline is not only intriguing, but also subtle enough to add to a cover that's about a totally different topic.
The Bad: A couple critics noted that the redness of the illustration is a bit too heavy handed. Another critic pointed out that the illustration is a bit too narrow, meaning that the evolution in China's society that is reflected in the image is too short sighted. The headline placement is questionable, one designer indicated that it looks like it was just dropped in without any consideration of the illustration under it.
Cover Grade: B-
Title: Mental Floss
Publishing Company: Dennis Publishing
Editor: Jessanne Collins
Art Director: Winslow Taft
Why it matters: As stated previously, summer is a time for travel. But these ideas aren't your typical vacation spots.
The Good: So busy it's fun to look at—not an easy task for a designer. Superb mix of fonts that should have no business working together, but they do. Mental Floss has established it's own style and this cover is a great example.
The Bad: While some of the critics loved the choas, others felt it was a bit too much (which lowered its grade from an A).
Cover Grade: B+