RDA Selects: Behind The New Yorker’s “Rubbed Out” Cover

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For the next few weeks, we’ll be running selected projects from the 2012 Regional Design Annual along with quotes from their designers. To submit work for the 2013 RDA, click here—the early-bird deadline is February 1, 2013.

“Rubbed Out” cover by The New Yorker: Françoise Mouly (art editor); Gürbüz Doğan Ekşioğlu (illustrator); newyorker.com

“The night of Sunday, May 1, 2011, I went down to the World Trade Center site and had my own private memorial, away from the crowds of kids drinking six-packs in front of the TV cameras. The event felt momentous. We had almost no information, yet it seemed clear that the death of bin Laden marked the end of a terribly long narrative, so I was hoping to find an image for the cover that would mark that moment of closure.

“I sent a call for sketches to all the artists I work with and ended up with 30 or 40 to show The New Yorker’s editor, David Remnick. Many artists proposed violent images, like bin Laden’s skull burning in hell. Others took a more wistful approach, and the great variety of moods in the submissions may be part of the reason we ended up choosing Gürbüz’s erased portrait for the cover. Gürbüz’s image brings many ideas together in one picture: the violence of a man being ‘rubbed out’; the fact that this man had carved the reality of his existence in all our minds. Yet that cover avoided what would have felt trivializing: making light of death, any death.” —Françoise Mouly


If you haven’t picked up a copy of the 2012 Annual yet, both the print and digital versions are now 25 percent off as part of the Merry Christmas to Me sale at MyDesignShop.com.