I’ve been designing a new magazine on the fly, and who better to mock up a cover with than Elizabeth Taylor? That face is so easy to work with.
I haven’t worked on a glossy magazine, with bleeds, spreads — and glamorous images — since the Connecticut Post (now Hearst Media Services) recruited me away from Golf Digest Co. 11 years ago. My year at Golf Digest influenced the way I worked here in Bridgeport, even down to paying special attention to the “viewing wall” in my office. Every magazine tacks up spreads so everyone can see the issue progress and evaluate its pacing. My “wall” was across from my desk, so for weeks, I was constantly confronted with the layouts. This allowed me to re-think much of the work, which is not a luxury I normally enjoy at a daily newspaper with tight deadlines.
This new magazine is a one-off, actually a glossy version of our Sunday section, now called Sunday Arts and Style. The word “Magazine” confused readers. Ironically, for one Sunday, our Stamford and Greenwich editions will indeed be a glossy magazine, a special issue focused on the Greenwich International Film Festival.
We’re pulling together a 32-page glossy while still putting the normal 8-page broadsheet newspaper edition of “S” for the Norwalk, Bridgeport and Danbury papers. It’s exhausting. I was supposed to hire a freelancer to do it while I tend to my normal duties, but the project green light came so late, I’m forced to just absorb the work. Which I’m kind of glad I’m doing. Creatively, it’s interesting to me. But I actually had a nightmare about the added deadline pressures last night. I dreamed that I rushed “S” to the printer without including the issue date on the cover, and then had to manually affix a sticker reading “Sunday, June 5” to every single copy.
First Peter Max, now this. A bit of glamour has been creeping into my work these days. My phase of drafting maps about car accidents or ballot recounts is in the past. Next week, we have a photo shoot with a well-known chef in Greenwich, and the features editor and I have been gathering props. Natually, it’s good for a designer to have more design-driven assignments. Goodbye hard news, hello Liz.
And goodbye Liz. The editors decided the Harry Benson portrait of Elizabeth Taylor was too dark, and since most of the other portraits we had access to were in black and white, we chose another story to make our cover: “The Fundamentals of Caring” and one of its stars, Selena Gomez. John Turturro was briefly considered, and I loved the photo I found from our stock image supplier. But it was decided he wasn’t enough of a presence within the festival to justify a cover. The “Fundamentals” movie, however, was one of our feature stories, and the most star-studded (hello, Paul Rudd!) — and the director, Rob Burnett, was to be at the festival.
I relied on handout photos from the distributors. At first, it didn’t seem any of the images from “Fundamentals” would work on the cover. Film stills are very horizontal, and magazine covers tend to be vertical. I doubtfully cropped a cool photo of Selena Gomez leaning out of a speeding car, worried that I’d delete all its meaning and impact. But the crop also emphasized Selena’s cherubic, fresh face. I’ve re-cropped that photo a dozen times, re-centering the focal point. The photo also led me to come up with a good cover line: Selena Gomez leaves Disney in the dust. Because now, she’s a foul-mouthed grown-up in a dark indie film. I don’t know much about Selena Gomez, but after playing around with iconic images of established stars — the Mia Farrow photo will be inside the issue — I was pleased to have a young, up-and-coming talent on the cover.
The issue comes out in Greenwich Time and the Stamford Advocate tomorrow, and it’s already in some of our weekly community papers. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.