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The Ones Not Chosen


I like to show a good mix of cover options to clients. A little safe, a little uncomfortable. A photo, an illustration. A white background, a dark background. People, concept. Not to mention the bigger picture questions I juggle: Is it too similar to something we’ve done in the past year? How many options are we showing for each concept? Does the cover fit the overall feeling we want to portray?

Getting the right mix is an art in itself and sometimes great designs don’t see the light of an art meeting. My rule of thumb is to never show a client a design option that I wouldn’t be totally on board with if chosen. I also try not to fall in love with any one option (to save myself heartbreak down the road).

All of this is to say that there are times when I’m left dreaming about what might have been.

The July/August 2015 cover of Middle Market Growth was one of those times. The story was about Direct Travel, a corporate travel service provider who essentially functions as an outsourced travel department.


We presented these four cover options to the client (clockwise from top left).

1. We did a photoshoot at the Direct Travel offices. This was the best portrait of the CEO. Light, bright and airy.
2. The CEO with a model airplane, which helps tell the travel story (in the most adorable way).
3. Our “concept” cover created using a detail shot we got from the photoshoot.
4. We turned to stock for a fourth cover option because we felt the need for something that screamed travel.

The client went with Option 4. It told the story in the most direct and compelling way and was the best choice.

But I still thought Option 3 was great. We took a photo Sara got from the shoot—the Direct Travel logo on a frosted glass window—and layered a transparent silhouette of a world map with travel lines over top. I prefer to use photography from our shoots over stock and I was thrilled that we were able to get a concept cover out of the shoot. Here’s how it went down.


And here’s what it looked like on-screen!


It’s also interesting to see how The Small Things—a quick, fun read and the last page of the magazine—plays with the cover since the content is always tied to the cover story. Option 1 was the winner.


Art Direction Heather Winkel
Design Laura Walter
Photos Sara Rubinstein

Produced at Network Media Partners for The Association for Corporate Growth.

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