As we found out this week, TIME magazine bestowed the cover of its “Person of the Year” issue with a nod to a collective. Actually, it’s more like a collective spirit of political upheaval and protest. Artist Shepard Fairey designed it.
If you recall, Fairey’s the same dude who got into heaps of legal trouble for his ubiquitous Barack Obama “HOPE” poster design which also was the cover of TIME’s 2008 “Person of the Year” when Obama won the presidency.
Perhaps like no other year in recent history has protest been so effective and life-changing than 2011.
However, the Fairey design wasn’t the only option TIME had considered.
According to trusted source and godfather of design, Bob Newman (follow him here @Newmanology), and the good folks at coverjunkie.com, there was another option that was rejected which also illustrated how 2011’s top story was all about societal change and revolutionary action.
The graffitied raised fist (see below) by graphic design beast James Victore is incredibly powerful in its own right.
Obviously, the editors at TIME had a tough decision but probably made the right choice.
Magazine cover science says that faces, even cloaked behind a mask in this case, make a stronger impact on newsstands than covers without a face or just type treatments.
UPDATE: Big thanks to Mark Kaufman (follow him: @DrawMark) for his tweet today in which he shared his blog post on the TIME cover. There’s another wrinkle in the cover’s backstory. Apparently, Fairey used a image taken by Ted Soqui, an LA Weekly freelancer, for inspiration. Soqui photographed Occupy LA protestor Sarah Mason and Fairey turned the image into the illustrated TIME cover.
Soqui told LA Weekly he harbors no hard feelings against the magazine, explaining:
“They should have probably just used the image,” he says. “But I think what they’re trying to do is not make it about the person, but the feeling.”
Anyway, there’s no lawsuit in the works. Soqui says he’s only “stoked, pleased and honored” to have contributed to the historic issue.
“I had to take a lot of [copies of the photo] down, because TIME wanted to control the image,” he says. “They crossed their T’s and dotted their I’s.”
This image is one that remains on his personal blog. The paper goes steps further to let us in on who Sarah Mason really is in this story here. In addition, 360 Magazine digs even deeper with a lengthy profile of the “elusive Mason.”
Still, it’s quite shocking to realize the real origins of the cover and that the design had its roots in a photo of an actual person instead of a collective spirit that I mentioned above. Fairey and TIME’s claim that the cover image is a composite of several images seems like someone’s in pure denial. Plus, if you take a peek at an LA Weekly cover from just a few weeks ago, the similarities are blatantly obvious.
But who’s to say who inspires who these days. Like Nas said, “No idea’s original/ there’s nothing new under the sun…”
Still…take the poll!
What do you think? Which design would you have picked if you were TIME’s creative director? Leave comments below.
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- Occupy L.A.: Protester is the face of Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Time 2011 Person of the Year Cover by Shepard Fairey/Ted Soqui (illustrationage.com)
- TIME’s 2011 Person of the Year: The Protester (laughingsquid.com)