How to Cover a Revolution

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Every publication makes a decisive choice about the tone it wants to set when it comes to covering a revolution. One obvious approach over the years is to use edgy, gritty, journalistic photography on the cover to capture the seriousness of the events. But often those images, no matter how hard hitting, pale in comparison to the ones seen on TV and the internet. So what’s a print publication in the era of the modern revolution to do?

One option is to use typography to create a feeling of a pamphlet. In the past, revolutionaries used pamphlets as an inexpensive vehicle for propaganda. Today, those pamphlets for propaganda have been replaced with social media.

Revolutionaries in the past also often used posters to promote their causes.

In the case of the cover for Adbusters, a Canadian magazine, they used a French poster from the 1968 student revolution. (By the way, the Occupy revolution was conceived by Adbusters magazine). (Another side note: the Adbusters cover image below is from a Parisian poster created by Philippe Vermès during the 1968 French protests. I updated that image for the cover of the current issue of Print magazine. To see the original, click here.)

But there is no stronger symbol of revolution than a fist.

Of course, there is always a counterpoint, so a small amount of covers, 1% (Ha! Ha! Ha!) is dedicated to the other side.

Although, perhaps the most unusual symbol of the Occupy revolution is the white mask. The mask is of Guy Fawkes, a character from the graphic novel “V for Vendetta” created by Alan Moore and David Lloyd and popularized by the movie of the same name. The mask was first used by a group of hackers called “Anonymous” who tried to created chaos by hacking through the Internet big government institutions and corporations around the world.

The mask soon started to appear among the protesters in the Occupy movement and quickly became an iconic symbol of today’s young peoples’ revolution. How appropriate.

“Remember, remember, the 5th of November”.

See more revolutionary approaches to covers on flickr.

PLUS: If you happen to be in New York this Thursday night don’t miss Mirko and Milton Glaser speaking at Open Center on the Design of Dissent. If you can’t attend that event, be sure to catch them on our Print DesignCast next Tuesday, January 31 at 3 pm.


And if you liked thisCheck out more of Mirko’s slideshows:

These Boots are Made for Walking, Walking Over You: Jackboots over the yearsBoy “O” Boy: The (sometimes) clever use of the “O” throughout movie historyCeci N’est Pas Une Roquette: A history of subliminal flying machinesThe Spirit of the Stone Type: A look at comic book type etched in stoneStone Type: A history of movie type etched in stoneThe Story of O: How designers use the letter O as a design motifHoliday Spirits: Pardon me, there’s a lady in my drinkOff With Her Head: What would Henry VIII Do?Why I Became an Artist: Pictures of artists drawing their modelsBooks on Books: Using pictures of books to sell booksBeauty and the Beast: The evolution of a classic poseGeorge W. Bush, Advertising Star: When companies use our president to sell stuffMad Man: The Long Strange Tale of Kim Jong-Il’s advertising career

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