There’s more to designing a magazine cover than following a few simple steps: there’s intuition; there’s exploration of new design methods; there’s marketing savvy, to just name a few. So, if you’re looking to design a magazine, and want to stick out from the competition, an occasional offbeat approach may be your best bet. Below, we highlight the best celebrity-free magazine covers ever designed to date. Enjoy.
This Bloomberg Businessweek cover instantly received nationwide attention after 2012 ‘Frankenstorm’ Hurricane Sandy hit. Many political pundits say this magazine cover perfectly articulated what everyone was thinking, but that’s if you believe in man-made global warming.
Coming from John Sack’s famous 33, 000-word essay about the war in Vietnam, this minimalist cover — originally published in 1966 — uses one simple yet powerful sentence to shock the world.
New York Magazine
New York Magazine brilliantly renders this strong aerial image of New York, accompanied with a subtle title, one that creeps up on you and plays into Hurricane Sandy, the second costliest storm after Hurricane Katrina.
With digital media trumpeted as being the future of news, Newsweek uses this magazine cover to announce its initiative to go 100 percent digital. The last print issue used a vintage photograph of Newsweek’s New York office, you know, when print was in its heyday.
The New Yorker
This 1976 issue of the New Yorker showcases a wholesome hand-drawn graphic depicting New York city’s solipsism. In case you didn’t know, New Yorkers back then thought they were the center of the universe. Many people still believe this attitude and cover is relevant today.
The May 4th massacre at Kent State splashed headlines across the country, and after John Filo’s photo won a pulitzer prize, it only made sense for Life to publish this story and photo on its cover.
This Newsweek cover gives the Whitehouse a clever portrait, remixing its blueprint with a tape recorder; highlighting President Nixon’s illegal wiretapping scandal [Watergate], which led to his August 9, 1974 resignation. It also renders a timeless capture of government surveillance as well. A topic we’re all familiar with today.
Famous pop artist Roy Lichtenstein helps TIME create this comic-inspired cover from the 1960s. With JFK, Martin Luther King, and RFK all victim to ‘gun violence,’ TIME exhibits an eye-catching cover depicting the growth of gun violence in USA.
Factory suicides, conflicted materials, and privacy breaches, computer magazine MacUser remixes the Apple logo into something a bit more toxic. There are those who believe the iPhone is the Mark of the Beast, and this issue aims to highlight Apple’s many flaws.
British satire magazine Private Eye takes on Tony Blair with this 1999 cover. It features a Tony Blair silhouette made from food, touching on the oncoming global food crisis. Ever heard of Monsanto?
Simple and authentic, this Bloomberg cover tosses this familiar photograph that helps depict the reader is most likely to know, today’s millennial. You know, the recent college graduate who’s stuck paying a student loan worth laughing about, living in mom’s basement, with absolutely no job opportunity in sight.
Learning the rules so you can break them is the first step to creating a memorable design. And yes, there’s a reason why the many principles of magazine layout and design are used over and over again: they work. However, magazine editors and graphic designers who have deviated away from the norm also have laid out a successful cover different from the rest, as seen above. If you’re looking to learn how to design a magazine cover, check out our graphic and web design tutorials at Learn iT Anytime, and try our self-paced video lessons for a penny.