– in order to avoid a cover becoming too ‘busy’ andtherefore difficult to ‘decode’, designers tend to stick to a limited colourscheme. Certain colours are generally felt to work well together and toprovide a particular ‘vibe’ – oranges, reds and pinks are warm and ‘fun’;blues, greens and blacks are cool and fresh. There are no absolutely hardand fast rules regarding colour – red, for example, depending on thecontext, can suggest ‘danger’, ‘boldness’, ‘passion’, ‘sex’, ‘heat’ or ‘energy’ or a combination of them all. Experienced designers develop a ‘feel’ for theway colour works – their skill lies in combining colours effectively to createan impression that might ‘feel’ right but be extremely difficult to place intowords.7.
– the name checks on the front cover act as a clearindicator of the ‘cultural territory’ on which the magazine focuses. Thesenames act like signposts to map out the region in which the magazine isinterested. Note that, in this issue of J-17, while Freddie Prinze Jr, DermotO’Leary and the rest clearly feature inside the magazine, Britney gets aprominent name-check even though she does
feature inside. It is alsoworth noting that the magazine can assume that the TA recognise certainindividuals by their first name alone – Britney, Robbie, Cameron, Christinaetc. Surely this represents the true measure of celebrity!8.
- the language employed on the cover is also significant. It willbe snappy and ‘economical’, with no wasted or unnecessary words. Oftenquasi-poetical devices will be used – puns, plays on words, metaphors,alliteration and so on. The idea is to interest and intrigue the audience inas short a ‘read-time’ as possible. The vocabulary chosen will reflect theTA and will often be chosen so as to ‘reward’ them for understanding it –specialist terms or slang words help to make the reader feel more intimatewith the magazine:
we both speak the same language; we’re all part of the same gang
!Most often, covers will only employ one or two different typefaces, varyingthe effect by using different point sizes and bold & italics. Too manydifferent typefaces tend to make the cover feel disorganised and lacking infocus. Some typefaces come in ‘families’, giving several versions withdifferent weights or modified formats e.g.
Eras Light, Medium, Demi and Bold
Using one of these families can provide for a tidy, harmonious feeling.9.
– competitions and other opportunities to win prizes are afurther way of ‘seducing’ the reader. Quizzes and questionnaires can alsoserve to ‘draw readers in’ and make them feel more personally involvedwith the publication. These are an example of ‘interactivity’.10.
Direct Address & Asking Questions
– magazine covers frequentlyaddress their readers as ‘YOU’, as if they were in direct communicationwith them. By asking a question of their readers (“Could YOU be a moviestar?”, “Which Atomic Kitten do YOU fancy?”), magazine covers give theimpression of opening a dialogue that can only be continued by purchasingthe publication.11.
Bar code, Date and Price
– for straightforward selling purposes, allcommercial magazines need this information on their cover. However, mostdesigners will consider them an encumbrance and will make them as smalland inconspicuous as possible, so as not to compromise the ‘integrity’ of their compositional work.