Magazine Cover Design in the Age of Trump

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The Effects of Magazine Covers

I grew up in Northern Kentucky. It was and still is a predominantly white, middle-class, metropolitan area. The schools are nice, but not the best in the country. People spend their evenings eating out at Applebee’s or watching America’s Got Talent with their families, and kids are promptly in bed when the credits roll. Growing up in a community like that, I wasn’t exposed to much controversy. Except when someone in the house was watching the local news.

Just across the river, maybe a 30 minute drive, is Cincinnati, home of Over-the-Rhine (OTR). In 2009, NeighborhoodScout listed it as the most dangerous neighborhood in the country based on crime statistics from 2005-2007. In 2001, the city saw one of the largest civil disturbances in the U.S. since the Rodney King riots. I was old enough at the time to remember hearing about the riots from my parents’ TV across the hall. I didn’t really understand what was happening, but I knew it was scary, and it was important. A few months after the race riots, the September 11th attacks happened. 

You could say 2001 was the first year I started “paying attention” to politics in the United States. We had internet at home, but it was slow, and I was still young enough to have parental controls blocking me from most news outlets. My only real resources for information were the magazines at our local library. My dad was a bookworm, so we were there at least once a week. He would walk around, looking for books about cars and new diets and theology, and I would sit in the magazine section and try to understand what was happening around the world by reading TIME or fumbling through the pages of The New Yorker. The words might have been over my head, but I definitely understood the magazine covers and the images within.

What I saw then influenced my interest in design, current events, politics, technology, etc. even as the magazine covers were replaced by internet headlines, Facebook statuses and tweets. Like most people, I phased magazines out of my day-to-day life and turned to online publications. They were easier to access, faster with information and more diverse. Magazines seemed obsolete. Until 2017.

[related: Decades-Worth of Design Magazine Covers; Magazine Covers by Famous Artists: Warhol, Lichtenstein, Banksy, Fairey & MoreMagazine Covers by Famous Artists: Dali, Picasso, Braque & More]

The tense political environment this year has been…difficult? Exhausting? All-around negative? At least something positive has come out of all the terror: some damn good design. Design that appears to be bringing these magazines back from the dead and providing important commentary on today’s world.

Although I can’t help but think about younger me. And I wonder how she would have been affected by some of the more caustic illustrations. The views and events these artists portray are important. But is impressive art worth the effects of fearmongering? Time will tell.

magazine covers 2017

Edel Rodriguez, August 28


magazine covers 2017

“Blowhard” by David Plunkert, August 20

magazine covers 2017

August 19



magazine covers

August 18

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4 thoughts on “Magazine Cover Design in the Age of Trump

  1. Studious

    OK so basically you show covers from Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, NY Times Magazine, and The Economist. All pretty much far-left anti-Trump publications. Where is the diversity of thought? I laughingly read one of the Time covers above in the article titled, “Is Truth Dead?” Well, I don’t know about that but one thing that is dead is freedom of thought in the art community. Whether it’s this Trump the Devil/Hitler or the simple fact that maybe one of the most corrupt woman in the history of the world actually was denied what she felt to be her birthright as the first woman president, the GroupThink has become boring and predicable. Who can be more clever with the nasty Trump cover.

    How about we take on Antifa or heaven forbid BLM in a few of these “hateful” covers? Oh, I forgot, they are fighting against hate speech and the .003 of 1% of the population the MSM has gleefully called white supremacy. Look what’s going on in Houston for crying out loud! People HELPING people devoid of race, color and all the other BS these type of hateful and divisive art spews. I mean get a life. Barack Obama wasn’t the grand messiah. In case you hadn’t noticed he left office with the world basically on fire. Something Trump had nothing to do with. Hillary lost, deal with it. And if you really want to do some real research on the woman’s background there is plenty of info out there.

  2. Don

    I think design should be used for good. These are all negative images reflecting negative articles that maybe true or false. These magazines have their own agenda. Where was all this negativity when President Obama was doing his best to divide the country. I would like to see great design used to bring the country together and stop trying to divide it.

    1. DavidB.

      Well said… second week in a row where Print has celebrated Hate by showing a one sided argument.

      So far the only real hate I’ve seen is coming from the left. They have a problem with winning elections so it must be something or someone else’s fault!

      Where are the covers of Antifa, or covers showing the hate spewing left wishing for people to be assasinated, beheaded or worse being gunned down at baseball practice. Print needs to hold up a mirror to these evil people too!

      Better yet, show the good, be an example for good!