Sunday, November 09, 2014

People magazine cover design 1974 and 2014

People magazine did one of those things I just can't resist. A throwback version of an old cover. 
It's People's fortieth anniversary and they did two fun things -- a throwback cover and a flip-and-read-it-from-the-back second cover. I'm not going to discuss the flip cover. I didn't like it at all.

Anyway here are the three front covers. The original cover -- from March 4, 1974 -- uses a supplied (I'm guessing) publicity photo of Mia Farrow in "The Great Gatsby." Okay, it probably was taken on the set of the movie for the magazine by a very professional magazine photographer, but it looks like a publicity shot. A movie still, not a cover photo. And the other two covers use highly-styled original photos of current pop sensation Taylor Swift by Martin Schoeller.

I've scanned the 1974 and 2014 subscription covers from small images in the 2014 newsstand issue.

The 1974 original cover is a pretty formal design. The logo characters are all kerned together in 1970's style -- making space for the word "Weekly" in the collision area. The logo is pushed to the very edge of the top and right hand side. The logo is also in black. I don't think they ran with a black logo for very long. It almost doesn't look like People magazine with a black logo. People has a white logo now and forever more.

The headlines are all very small and undifferentiated. All in Helvetica, all black.

It's a bit of a slog to try to read all the type on that cover.

The 2014 subscription cover kinda halfway tries to reproduce the look of the 1974 original. The designer could have gone all-out Helvetica, but stayed with People's current (wonderful) typeface, Metro. The small version of the original cover is a nice touch of variety and a needed explanation as to why Swift is munching on pearls like that. The big gap at the bottom left is for the mailing label. I'm guessing the printed versions have a very large white rectangle there. 

The 2014 newsstand cover takes what it wants from then and now. On the left is the cover homage -- with a little bit of color in the type treatment to add excitement and bring out Swift's eyes (and Swift is looking at the camera -- it's a much better shot). Note the position of the original cover thumbnail. That small cover is positioned to cover up the unattractive, non-floofy area of Swift's hair that's visible in the 2014 subscription cover.

White logo.

And on the right hand side, the cover design is completely today's People. Many colorful photos, colorful type. Something for everyone. Ugly, but that's the way it's done.

I think the People designers did a pretty good job playing off the so-so original cover. Too bad Telly Savalas wasn't the first People cover.

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