Putting Style Before Substance: Creating an Iconic Magazine Cover

magrack On the Dream and Hustle Facebook page, I asked people what magazine cover stand out and grab their attention from the photo above. As part of the Hustle Space intelligence gathering phase, I went to libraries to look at magazine covers for hundreds of magazines and also at bookstores, I snapped photos of magazine displays to see how magazines compete for your attention to be noticed. In this article, we learned through trial and error the best type of magazine cover and will share the details with you. Designing the Hustle Space Magazine Cover reject The Hustle Space magazine and the 12 volumes we are working hard on are a big deal with a lot of work and investment put into it. What is most important is we going to create a print edition that is limited and for distribution only to select markets around the world. But you see the number of cats coming out with their own e-mag and other magazines out there and we need to make sure Hustle Space stands out and reach our target audience and grabs their attention. I studied a lot of magazine covers going to the library, looking on the Internet and also going to bookstores and magazine racks, even using Google Street View to look at magazine stands on the streets in several cities around the world. So here are my observations on the type of magazine covers. The Wordy Cover wordy These are magazine covers where there are a bunch of words all on the magazine cover with phrases and statements designed to make you look. Notice the women-orientated magazines are designed this way with a bunch of “chatter” on the home page. So I believe the goal here is to put all of the topics and content on the front page to show the reader what is being talked about inside. I don’t know how effective this is or if it supposed to be effective. I actually tried this concept with the Hustle Space magazine cover and my impression was that the magazine is whoring and hustling itself to the consumer like “look homey, this is the stuff I’m talking about - look at me, dammit!” and gave my hard work a cheap presentation. I didn’t like it and I’m being honest. The Big Bold Colorful Words boldcontrast These are the magazine covers with a big bold word that is design to attract your attention to what is being said. What I see is huge font with a color contrast from black/white to blue/yellow/green combinations to stand out. I do admit that these magazines attract my attention when standing from a distance. So I would say these are the ones that attract my attention as I’m reading and that is the problem, I’m reading. So when looking at a magazine rack, I’m doing a scan to see what magazines are there for me to buy and I’m scanning the magazine titles. I see all the fancy logos, the bright colors of text and the bold text statements on display and I guess the game is I’m supposed to pick the magazine with the wittiest bold text, right? No, the average magazine browser do not shop like that, the average magazine browser already know what kind of topic that interest them and go to that topic. No words are going to make them come to a purchase decision that they will buy a magazine because it caught their attention. It take more than that. So the bold letters for the Hustle Space magazine was kind of a gimmick to me, again the whole “read this catchy headline! Look at me and notice me!” and I’m putting in real work in the content for Hustle Space and don’t want to present Hustle Space in this fashion. As you see by now, the whole magazine cover gimmick of trying to attract attention and these games of word play on the magazine cover is not something I’m feeling. All of my mock-up designs using what other magazines are doing, I was not happy with. Then I saw Jennifer Hudson... jlife When I saw the picture of Jennifer Hudson on Life magazine cover, this was the answer and how a magazine cover should look like. With the Life magazine cover of J-Hud, I’m not looking at words, catchy colors and font, I’m looking at a human face and what I notice first, a beautiful Black woman. When I looked at the top selling magazines, all of them basically had no text and had an iconic figure or image on the magazine cover. The iconic image made the impression that it needed to make, come inside and see what else we have to offer. We are human beings first and the first thing we humans really notice is not text, words or colors but human faces and other natural objects first. Now, if you look back at the magazine rack at the very top, the two things you actually and really noticed first but probably didn’t realize was the dog on the magazine cover and Jack Nicholson on the Life magazine cover – those are the magazine cover that truly stand out. Go take another look and see what I'm talking about. icon Look at Prince album cover – this album cover made Prince instantly iconic. See, there are no words, no catchy phrases to sell you upfront on the Prince album cover and that means when you listen to the album, you have an open mind on about what you are about to listen to and be surprised and amazed. With a magazine cover, you should invoke the same feeling where the customer is going to be surprised and amazed at the content inside that you wrote. Everything from the Swagg-Scientific is going to be iconic in our visual marketing. For too long, Black people never graced magazine covers, never had our people been shown in a way that reflect who we are as a people because of some effeminate gay or pedophile magazine editor extremely intimidated and jealous of the strong physique of the Black man and the curvy silhouette of the Black woman. Or the cute freckled sista with the natural hair and other images of our people. No, we going to be iconic and we are going to express the entire brand of all our products in an iconic fashion. All of the Hustle Space covers will be iconic, no silly text or catchy teaser phrases or color contrasts. We are not going to try to catch someone attention with gimmicks - we are going to make a statement with an iconic image that the consumer cannot ignore. This is how we are going to design our magazine covers and when Hustle Space launch, yall are going to see what a real damn Black magazine should look like by cats who ain’t scared either. Our business model for our magazine is based on telling bigot corporate advertisers to go fist themselves because Hustle Space going to be straight about business for the brothas and sistas and real talk and straight talk and focus on what we need to cover. So when you think of doing your music album cover, your e-book cover or your magazine cover screw all that typography and colors and catchy phrases and just have an iconic simple statement that can be beautiful as Jennifer Hudson and as complex and intriguing as Prince. hsconcept

3 thoughts on “Putting Style Before Substance: Creating an Iconic Magazine Cover

  1. I’m thinking whoever set the magazines up subconsciously put Jack’s cover in front of all of that mess.

    1. The Jack Nicholson magazine is part of a “Life Icons” collection which means that it will have a long shelf life, not month to month. The monthly Life magazine is actually on the second row and hidden right above the Jack magazine cover.

      But the “Life Icon” magazine format is actually how any smart print magazine should operate and how Hustle Space will operate. It is totally worthless to create monthly magazines in the digital age and instead, focus on horizontal or vertical content and have a longer shelf life.

      I think the combination of promoting a long term magazine and also an iconic magazine design is smart and the direction to go in print media.

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