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2010 Design Challenge

Design Challenge #3

You work for Concrete Times magazine as the art director. The magazine's May 2010 and June 2010 issues will feature an important two-part cover series, entitled “The Future of Concrete.”

Your editor-in-chief has given you pretty much free reign over how to work on the treatment and she seems open to most any concept. The sticking point is this: How to you create a two-part cover that will relate the back-to-back issues to each other, yet also allow each to stand on its own? The editor-in-chief has asked you to come up with a concept for the May and June covers for the next staff meeting.


The winning solution

2010 TABPI design challenge winner Matt Cole image2010 TABPI design challenge winner Matt Cole image 2Submitted by Matt Cole, Art Director,School Planning & Management and College Planning & Management magazines, Peter Li Education Group. Cole will receive U.S. $250 for his winning solution.

The Future of Concrete is abound with new possibilities for our world. The cover image, with its dramatic angles and bright, vibrant color, inspires us to dream of what may come and the endless possibilities and advancements in the science of concrete that will benefit our society. Part I delves into the science side of the research and advancements to be made in the world on concrete and the opportunities that will be available. Part II looks at the technical side, the “Smart Buildings” and high-tech practices that will increase productivity and bring this new world to fruition. Taken separately, each cover stands on its own, but when you put them together, they create a panorama of the city of the future. The editors of Concrete Times feel these issues will not only be cherished by our readers, but the puzzle aspect will make them collector’s pieces. An added benefit will be a longer shelf-life for each magazine increasing ad views and in this economy, our advertisers will definitely be happy about that.

Judges said:

• What really stands out with these entries are the vibrant photos selected for the background. The colors and angles make for attention-getting layouts, however in a few cases there are readability issues with some of the smaller type. Although I understand the idea behind breaking up “The Future of Concrete” over two layouts—I’m not sure that readers would immediately grasp that without having both issues in front of them.

• Great cover imagery. Very colorful, has movement and leads the eye to many cover lines. Little touches like a website, tagline and iconic treatment of the part 1, part 2 box shows you went the extra mile. The smaller electric green cover lines are a little difficult to read. Interesting concept of cutting the cover image in half. It ties the 2-part series concept together well, but each cover can stand on its own. I don’t think the readers, especially in this market, will be saving the magazine and eagerly awaiting the next issue to see the remaining half. If the reader tosses the May issue, the cover headline on June will make no sense. But I’ll blame that on the editor.
Overall, a great concept and nicely executed.

• The covers are too similar and I don’t see how the two differ that much. Great type but the background is too busy that you lose the type and makes it hard to read.

• The exaggerated colors on the images help the cover pop. The black information boxes on the corner, and the call out headlines and page numbers are nice elements that don’t take away from the cover images. Great choice in font and size variations, but I question the need for the entire cover to be in caps. The headline is odd, but I’ll pretend it was the editor’s choice. The May cover is stronger than the June cover because the headline and the image play off each other better. Unfortunately, the images are so similar that they look like the same cover.


Honorable Mentions

2010 TABPI design challenge Honorable Mention Dave Haglund2010 TABPI design challenge Honorable Mention Dave Haglund 2Submitted by Dave Haglund, Art Director, Concrete Contractor, Equipment Today & Rental Product News, Cygnus Business Media.

Each cover shows a concrete wall with a “window to the future.” The crystal ball holds the headlines. Working with the (fictional) editor, we determined that the emphasis of each of the 2 part stories focused on near-future and long-term outlooks. While the concrete business will face more tough times in the next year or so, there are better times on the horizon.

My (fictional) editor didn't like the crystal ball metaphor. Here are a couple more options. As so often happens, we've got a compromise.

The (fictional) editor likes the second version, but we are going to use the photos from the first version.

Judges said:

• Issue month and date should be given the same treatment. May is in all caps and June is not. Interesting concept and very visual. The ominous sky provides the perfect backdrop for type. Is the road made of concrete or asphalt?  I hope it’s concrete. The second image is a little disconnected to me. I understand the sunny disposition, but a little too corny, over saturated for me. There are better ways to illustrate optimism. Looks like you considered mailing label placement. All too often beautiful covers are covered up. Simple, punchy colors help differentiate cover lines. Nice font selection, but why use all the same weight?

• The “portal window” is effective at framing the layout; it’s also effective at making the two-part series cohesive. However, the photos selected could be a little less predictable and maybe offer something that ties into the industry. The type treatments are nicely handled and consistent between the two layouts. One glaring error is the masthead—the May issue date is all caps, the June issue is in lower case and is missing a space.

The covers are colorful and set a cool and warm tone for each issue. The image on the bottom ties the covers together nicely, but a sans-serif typeface would have been a stronger choice. The silhouettes from the June cover aren’t holding any tools associated directly with the creation or use of concrete, unfortunately it creates a disconnect between the image and the headline. It was an interesting move on the designer’s part not to incorporate concrete anywhere on the cover image.

• Great concept! I like how the two images have a common look but each cover tells a different stories. They look like they are a part of a series.



2010 TABPI design challenge Honorable Mention Petra Domingo2010 TABPI design challenge Honorable Mention Petra Domingo 2Submitted by Petra Domingo, Associate Art Director, Lighting Design + Application magazine, Illuminating Engineering Society.

I decided to create two covers that shared some design elements but still looked different from one another. I wanted the 'The Future of Concrete' to be the first thing that you see, and to be prominent without competing with the nameplate. I think the title sets itself apart visually by being on a tilt, while also being a bit of a play on the theme in that it looks like a concrete imprint. The top image on my first cover focuses on what concrete is used for. The second cover focuses on who is working with the concrete. I imagine that both the projects and people that use concrete will be discussed in this double issue on ‘The Future of Concrete.’

Judges said:

• The covers are colorful and set a cool and warm tone for each issue. The image on the bottom ties the covers together nicely, but a sans-serif typeface would have been a stronger choice. The silhouettes from the June cover aren’t holding any tools associated directly with the creation or use of concrete, unfortunately it creates a disconnect between the image and the headline. It was an interesting move on the designer’s part not to incorporate concrete anywhere on the cover image.

• I feel like we lose the concrete message; it looks like it would work better with a construction theme. Great use of typography. Just misses the mark on the subject matter working with the design.

• These layouts demonstrate a nice consistency which is important when presented with a two-part series. The color scheme in the May issue is very attention-getting and the silhouetted construction imagery works well. The imagery in the June issue does a good job of conveying the “who” in the industry but is too reminiscent of the iPod campaign, which has been mimicked in every conceivable way. The type treatment of the headline looks great with the yellow/black construction motif.

• Many elements of the first cover are great. A silhouette works fine, but I think a photo silhouette would offer more dimension than a vector illustration. Type treatment is very strong. I like how you combined concrete texture, caution tape from a construction site and a stamped concrete approach to the cover lines. Strong use of bold colors. Great conception for a single cover. The second cover vector illustration also falls flat. Some of the tools people are holding in the image aren’t tools that would be used in the concrete industry. Have you ever tried to saw through concrete with a hand saw? The background color is a little too hot and doesn’t work as well as the colors used in the other cover. I can’t help but think the people are going to self-combust at any moment. Type treatment is very strong.
Why not include a magazine website, volume and issue number and tagline?



2010 TABPI design challenge Honorable Mention Jaun Mims2010 TABPI design challenge Honorable Mention Jaun Mims 2Submitted by Jaun Mims, Art Director, National Real Estate Investor Magazine, Penton Media, Inc.

After doing a little research on the future of concrete, I found that it consisted of better, equipment, techniques and materials. I then expressed ideas of old machines mixed with technology to a great illustrator friend of mine, Richard Borge, and he agreed to bring my ideas to life for free. This happens in the real world many times as an Art Director with no budget. You sometimes have to call upon business relationships and/or friends to get the job done. I not only went to him because of budget, I knew he could keep the 2 pieces in the same style to make sure they related but could stand alone as well.  I then took the pieces and created a layout that would speak to the audience boldly at the same time work with the art. These two cover coming back-to-back works seamlessly.

Judges said:

• Love how you used a friend to illustrate the cover work. Creative solution and idea when working with zero budget. The covers are creative intriguing and eye-catching. The illustration is interesting and really draws the reader into looking at the details. They type is current, hip and creative. Great job of creating two covers that look like they are a part of the series!

• The illustrations used are amazing. I understand artists are faced with little to no budget and are forced to come up with something from nothing every month. Relying on friends or other sources to save a magazine money is great. However, in a contest like this, I think outsourcing a cover illustration is totally inappropriate. The contest is to showcase design skills. It’s not meant to see who has the best connections. If this were an editorial contest, would you freelance your story out to a better writer? I like the punchy page numbers and smaller cover lines–though some are clumsily written. Lots of info here. I don’t even need to turn to a table of contents. The dotted rules offer a casual approach. Did you take into account mailing label position? Why not include a magazine website, volume and issue number and tagline?

• In the real world you may not have a budget to work with, but in the real world a designer could NOT get an illustrator to work for free. The job of an editorial designer is to come up with an appropriate image, or series of images to create eye-catching covers and part of this process includes the use of illustrators to execute concepts. In judging this cover, I’ve decided to suspend the disbelief of a FREE original illustration and judge it based on the criteria asked of this competition. The illustrations are creative and tie the two covers together. The fonts work well within the illustration, both in color and the variation in sizes. It was a nice touch to include call outs with page numbers. Very creative and successful covers! Kudos to the illustrator as well!

• The illustrations in these layouts are top notch, however - the contestant’s commentary states their colleague (a known illustrator) created the images for free, and that “This happens in the real world many times as an Art Director with no budget.” While that’s certainly true, this is a contest; the focus of the contest is to reward a designer’s creativity, not their industry connections. Although the result is high quality, I would have liked to have seen more input from the designer. That said, the imagery is consistent in both layouts and really gets the readers’ attention. The type treatments are also consistent and effectively complement the illustrations.



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