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Better Roads' Bryant wins Design Challenge

TABPI has wrapped up its fourth Design Challenge contest, with the winning nomination submitted by Tim Bryant, Art Director for Randall-Reilly's Better Roads magazine. The Challenge was open to all b2b art directors and designers. The Challenge is meant to reward graphic creativity in the b2b industry, as well as serve as an educational exercise for other artists. Bryant will receive U.S. $250 for his winning submission. Honorable Mention winners included submissions from the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

Our panel of design judges consisted of:

Karen Angus, Art Director, GIE Media
Amy Witek, Art Director, Hotel Management
Shawn Hoefler, former Art Director, HPAC Engineering
Matt Cole, Art Director, The Peter Li Education Group (last year's Design Challenge winner)

We asked all of our judges for both positive feedback and constructive criticism of all the winners, so as to make this a learning experience for everyone. We also welcome your feedback. Did our panel pick the one you liked the best? What would you have done differently? Please comment on our Facebook page, here.

Please check out the details of the challenge below, followed by Bryant's winning submission, and other highly rated submissions from our judging panel. (Click on any of the covers to open a larger version in a new browser window.)

[Hey, designers, did you miss out on the Design Challenge? Don't despair, there is still time to be recognized. Enter your best work from 2010 in our annual Tabbie Awards competition; the deadline is March 17th. For details, as well as to browse through all the great design winners from previous years, please click here.]

Design Challenge #4—The glamour shot

You work for Concrete Times magazine as the art director. Your March 2011 issue will be featuring a cover story on Eloise Beam, CEO of Beam’s company has taken the industry by storm, and she has just been named as your magazine’s “Executive of the Year” for 2011.

Unfortunately, there is only one high-resolution photo of Ms. Beam available, and it’s not a typical business shot—but instead from her modeling days. Your editor-in-chief and publisher insist that she must be on the cover and that she has to be the central focus of it. They’re not at all thrilled with the image provided, but have given up on getting a better one. Thus, they have asked you to “work your magic” to edit the photo within reason and to then figure out how to place it to make the cover workable and professional.



The winning solution

2011 TABPI design challenge winner Tim Bryant imageSubmitted by Tim Bryant, Art Director, Better Roads magazine, Randall-Reilly Publishing. Bryant will receive U.S. $250 for his winning solution.

Since the woman’s smile, as well as pose, wasn’t going to work in order to give the professionalism she rightly deserved, I decided to use the two other attributes of Ms. Beam (that being her eyes and hair).

After finding a suitable image on – one that I felt conveyed the company where she works ( – I thought it a good idea to not only place her in a lab, but also work the availability of the mask to cover her ‘model’ smile as well as the lab coat. All the work was done in Photoshop.

Judges said:

• The main directive of this assignment was to make the cover workable and professional. You did both. Kudos to you for being the only designer to put this woman in her proper work environment. After I conducted my own research on the Bureau of Labor Statistics web site, I found the lab image to be spot on. If you would of sourced the site in your summary, I would have been confident in your stock selection and not investigated a concrete chemist’s work environment on my own. Nice addition of the concrete granules in the test tube. Great cover line colors add a punch to an otherwise grey cover. The words could have been larger which would have given the words a better relationship to one another. Placement works but would have been better if moved a little lower away from the face. Looks like designer considered mailing label placement. Items to consider adding: 2011 to the cover line; month and year; a tagline.

• This solution did a great job of solving the problem, and conveyed an appropriate tone. This is a nice, clean layout and there's just enough cleverness without being too far-fetched.

• It solves the “sexiness” problem, but I can’t see her face! I guess that’s what’s really holding me back on this one. I didn’t have a problem with her smile and would like to see it here. Good technical work in Photoshop. A small problem with her neck where it meets the collar, but that’s getting a bit picky. No issue date, or cover lines leaves the whole thing a bit plain. I think the main head could be much bigger and moved down to cover the test tubes at the bottom. Even with a mailing label there is room to blow up the text, especially since there aren’t any other cover lines. Drop the mask and give some more oomph on the text and you got a cover.

• Overall this was an excellent solution to the problem. The designer did a great job at keeping the positive points of the photo and correcting the negative points. The designer also did a great job with the detail work done in Photoshop. However, a bit more attention could have been given to blending her hair and “CEO of concrete” was a bit hard to read. Perhaps it could have been made larger. Overall though, good job.


Honorable Mentions

2010 TABPI design challenge Honorable Mention Dave HaglundSubmitted by Karen Leno, KML Design, Inc.

To depict Eloise Beam more professionally and appropriately for the cover of “Concrete Times” magazine, I performed the following actions in photoshop:

• Rotated the image for a less alluring pose.
• Covered her bare shoulders with an office chair. My intention is that she appears to be peering over the back of the chair in which she is seated, in her “executive” office.
• Lessened the contrast in her highlighted hair and darkened the color overall.
• Removed the wisps of hair that made her hairdo look tousled.
• Added more hair in the bangs area to further downplay its wispiness.
• Changed her lip color from pink to a more mature red.
• Downplayed the glossiness of her lips.

Using the image rather large on the cover eliminated the need to modify her body and clothing.

Judges said:

• Good idea to solve the problem. I like the idea of the chair, but I was wondering what it was. Maybe instead of a gradient background (which makes her look like she’s floating), use an out of focus shot of an office to complete the illusion that she’s in a chair. You could burn the background image to darken it so the cover lines would stand out and not clutter or distract from the cover lines. I like that the color of her lips were toned down, but her hair looks weird. Nice type difference, colors, in the main text tease. Like the other cover lines as well. Good job.

• I like the attention to detail that was paid with tweaking the photo to have a more professional look. I think the layout needs a little more of a dimensional quality; it reads a little flat.

Overall, there was a lot of good thought put into this cover. Many of the details that made the original photograph unprofessional were adjusted and they were well executed in Photoshop. I also think the designer did a good job with the fonts and placement of copy. I would have perhaps chosen a chair that was more executive looking (perhaps black?) The silver chair on the grey background isn’t as striking as it could have been.

• Really nice cover line treatment and great balance between serif and sans serif, thick and thin, and color. You certainly get it. Lots of entry points. Rather than embrace the woman’s lack of clothing, you chose to cover her up with an executive chair adding an air of professionalism. The orientation of the head is also an improvement. My only concern is that the Photoshop haircut has gone a bit too far. Though she looks better, she no longer resembles enough of the original.


2010 TABPI design challenge Honorable Mention Petra DomingoSubmitted by Ania Czupajlo, Senior Graphic Designer, Principal Connections, Catholic Principals' Council of Ontario (CPCO).

My approach for this cover was to keep it clean and simple. I feel less is more and since Ms. Beam had to be the focal point I decided to put only her on the cover. Also, since the logo is gray I did a touch of gray and white gradient in the background. Regarding the model, I felt it wasn’t necessary to alter her face and hair, so I left it the way it was originally. However, I had to do some color correction so it would match the suit, which was taken from another photo. As for the text I decided to position it on the bottom left corner. I wanted to keep it away from her face.

Judges said:

• This was a good approach in concept, but I think the proportions need to be looked at again. It's a difficult photo of the executive, but a little more time might have helped make the image believable.

• Striking color correction of the image. Very nice job rebuilding portions of the jaw and highlight coming from behind. Very appropriate gradient that works well with the photo. The business suit works on this cover. Nice typography and balance between serif and sans serif. Placement of the cover lines are just ok. My eye is drawn to the large dead area on the cover. If the main lines were repositioned further up the page and secondary lines added, that would have solved the gap problem. Her title is incorrect. It should be CEO,

• Good job overall. Nice job recreating the chin and the neck is wonderful! The top of her hair is fading out and I’d like to see it a bit crisper. I would also like to see her head pushed down a bit so that her hair is actually on top of and partly obscuring the word “Times,” but I imagine the editors would flip if you tried to cover up part of the magazine name (I however am a big fan, and it would give it more pop). She could also be a bit bigger and command more of the cover. The background color makes it a bit blah for me. I would like to have seen some color there. Maybe a blue or green. It looks like a take on a Fast Company cover with the background gradient, but pull the white in behind the subject more and make it go darker towards the edges. I’d also like to see a little more “oomph” in the main cover line. If that’s the only story you are going to profile, make it grab me. However, I feel it just kind of lays there. Mix it up a bit. Maybe some color in the text or changing type size a bit more. Good solid cover though.

• I really like how the designer put her in a business suit and kept the cover simple and clean. Overall the cover has a very professional, executive look to it. However, more attention should have been given to blending her hair. Also, there is quite a bit of open space above the headline. So much that my eye tends to get pulled there. Perhaps the headline and deck could have been made larger and moved up.


2010 TABPI design challenge Honorable Mention Jaun MimsSubmitted by John Rooney, Chief Magazine Designer, The Institution of Engineering and Technology (U.K.).

This treatment is based on the idea of classic portraits and recreating these portraits with the face of the current executive of the year. The lady with the pearl earring was a perfect fit with Eloise’s submitted photo.


Judges said:

• The fonts, type placement and colors used on this cover are excellent. I also really like the canvas treatment done to the image. However, I don’t get the connection between The Lady with the Pearl Earring and Eloise. I’m also not sure that many of the readers would get it either. Based on the quality work done here, I would have loved to seen what the designer could have done if not trying to make her look like a famous painting.

• The type treatment is very nice, but I'm not seeing the connection (other than the similar angles) between a Concrete Chemist executive and Vermeer's painting. The overall look is very eye-catching, but I'd like to see something with more connection to the actual industry.

• Outstanding cover lines, typography, and refer boxes at the bottom. However, I’m not sure placing her in one of Vermeer’s masterworks is entirely appropriate. It does make Eloise appear more professional, which was one of the directives, but it makes her look like someone she isn’t. If the magazine was geared toward art dealers or artists, this may have worked better. Not sure if any of the readership would recognize or appreciate the knock off.

• I don’t get the painting reference. What does Vermeer have to do with concrete? The only way to I can see to salvage the reference is if you went a little flip and maybe said “She’s a Classic!” Even then, it would be a stretch. Love the type treatment and the other cover lines, but don’t use Greek text. A quick internet search would give you what you need. Overall great job. Nice Photoshop work, great type, but the idea is disconnected.


2010 TABPI design challenge Honorable Mention Jaun MimsSubmitted by Linda Rapini (Cortese), Art Director, Pharmacy Practice & Drugstore Canada, Rogers Publishing.

I think all the elements work really well together while still achieving hierarchy. With the challenge of Eloise’s image I felt that there was an opportunity for a creative solution here that didn’t require modification. In keeping her photo looking natural I cropped it to create a headshot and designed it to look like a badge. I positioned the badge on a slight angle to make it look like it naturally fell in place. The crack in the concrete for the background image resembled lightning, which went well with the subhead that includes “takes the industry by storm.” To take it even further, the crack makes an impression on the concrete, which mirrors what Eloise has done in the industry.

Judges said:

• Nice cover lines and use of type on the badge. Interesting concept but the badge is a little small and maybe a better stock image of concrete would be more appropriate. All concrete cracks, but it’s the chemist’s job to alter the ingredients to reduce or omit cracking. I understand the relationship between the crack looking like lightning and the cover lines, but I see cracked concrete and am left with a negative connotation. Items to consider adding: a tagline to the magazine; magazine web site; did you consider mailing label placement?

• I didn’t get the lightning in the concrete image. Looks like just a crack to me. The ID badge doesn’t do our Executive of the Year justice. The main image is cracked concrete and I barely notice her face. A missed opportunity.

• I like the general concept, but I don't know that the original photo lends itself to a badge.

• I like the overall solution that the designer came up with. The cracked concrete background is visually interesting and the name badge goes well with the “Meet Eloise” headline. The fonts and placement of copy are all good. However, her bare shoulder (while the focus is some-what lessened) is still showing and this takes away from what could have been a really good solution.


2010 TABPI design challenge Honorable Mention Jaun MimsSubmitted by Rita Tabar, Art Director (and Copywriter: Cindy Grahl), Builders Exchange Magazine, Sabre Publishing Group.

Our cover design used a little judicious Photoshopping to eliminate the distracting and somewhat unprofessional bare shoulder and presented the image within a concrete frame to recontextualize it. Words were then chosen to play off this placement. We then, to relieve the unabashed gray, selected color to pick up the color of her eyes, with an added spotlight to further focus the composition on Ms. Eloise.

Judges said:

• I think we hid more than her shoulder here. I like the fact that the cover lines try to explain why she is covered up, but why write cover lines to justify covering her up. I think we could have gone in a different direction here. I do like the different font sizes, colors, etc., in the cover lines. Overall, let’s make her the main image and not the concrete blocks.

• While I kind of like the idea behind this cover, it wasn’t executed very well. Based on proportions alone, someone’s face would never be small enough to show through a concrete block hole. The use of blue was a nice touch and I like how the deck ties into the artwork. More attention should have been given to her hair; it looks really chopped off on the left.

• The "peek-a-boo" approach is creative, and the added blue tones in the background show some thought but the end result is a bit flat.

• Interesting concept. Stronger cover line typography could have made this a contender. The biggest cover line fights too much with the name of the magazine. The secondary cover lines are just a little too light and don’t pack enough punch. If you want bold, go bold. A little too plain Helvetica looking. Nice addition of the magazine web site. Items to consider adding: a tagline to the magazine; a page number to point readers to the feature start; the name of the woman’s company.


Click here to see details on the winner and the Honorable Mentions from the 2010 Design Challenge. Click here for the 2009 Design Challenge or here for the 2008 Design Challenge. Do you have suggestions for a future design or editorial challenge? Email us with your suggestions.



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