Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Spring has Sprung/ BH&G's March 2010 cover
One of my regular client, "Better Homes and Garden" recently asked me to help them produce their covers. Of course I have had quite a bit of experience with this in the past, having produced all of the "Real Simple" covers while I was there between 2006 and 2008. I also have also worked on many Australian magazine covers prior.
There is a process when it comes to covers, the approach to them can be quite different then a regular feature. The magazine for obvious reasons is highly scrutinized and deliberated by all. Often focus groups can even be called upon to determine the outcome of which cover will run. Therefore a lot of options need to be produced to make sure every angle is covered, Often 2 ideas or more will be shot in many different ways and then it is left to the higher powers or the readers to decide. There are a few rules to follow: often the cover needs to reflect the season it is coming out on the new stands, It needs to also be an "easy read" and jump out. The choice of colors is important, I find the choices of colors are really what drives a covers success at times, but of course the image also.
To give you an idea, "Better Home and Gardens" is the nations third largest magazine in paid circulation and sells 7.6 million copies per month in the U.S.A. As they claim "Better Homes and Gardens delivers more potential buyers than Country Living, Architectural Digest and Martha Stewart Living combined" It's average age of it's reader is 49 years old and 78% of them own their own home.
With such a large circulation, It is very important that the right image is chosen. My approach is to start the process by working with an existing theme in mind, Often the magazine will give me a few words like "Eat Healthy Kitchen" , "Spring Clean" or "Summer Entertaining" to work with. Sometimes they have a clear idea of what they want to represent this and sometimes they look to me to come up on a fresh take or new ideas all together. In these images represented on this post, you can see an initial pull of 4 out of 6 different ideas that I sketched up. These are reviewed and then I move forward with reworking the favorites or even sometimes a whole new idea. I will then sketch a further 12-16 new ideas and eventually 2 will be chosen from the presentation. I then work through the colors by presenting color chips and when these are also approved, I then go propping. In this post you can also see here some ideas with actual props beginning to formulate at one of the Prop Houses.
With this cover we wanted a quick easy centerpiece or decorating idea that the readers could do with flowers. The cover comes out at the launch of Spring so the flowers and colors reflect that. My idea was to use an eccelectic collection of cups and saucers that most people have even perhaps in the back of their cupboards and stack them on top of each other to form different heights and shapes. The idea also alludes to a "Garden Tea Party", common in Spring. As a second option we also shot a version with cylinder vases combining vegetables and flowers. The cup and saucer version was however chosen and then it was liked so much that an accompanying story was published inside with some of the overs from the shoot which was great as many times the other options are never seen.
In the end the image chosen was by coincidence most peoples favorite who worked on the shoot, It was very exciting to see it on the new stands when it came out last week, I hope you enjoy the nod to Spring, especially when a lot of us are knee deep in snow.
This cover was shot by the wonderful Kate Mathis www.katemathis.com, who I have the pleasure of working with quite often, She insisted on doing a version backlit on this set up which ended up being the one that ran, It was a good call as the lighting is beautiful, I am sure you would agree.