Alexis Petty on How To Design A Magazine Cover By Taking A Walk


1. Describe how you made the cover of the current Actually People Quarterly.


- Realize you are in Park City with your coworkers, forgot you had to make the APQ Winter cover and you have no art supplies.

- Look next to you and see a cardboard box.

- Search for scissors and find them easily due to Kim's (Fontaines' mom) super good home stocking/organization skills.

- Rip open the box and cut out the letters: E-S-C-A-P-E.

- Look around the house for places to put the E-S-C-A-P-E pieces to be photographed.

- Decide this doesn't feel quite right.

- Suggest a walk.

- Put the E-S-C-A-P-E letters in your pocket and put on your shoes.

- Outside look around and feel excited about the cover and the possibilities: snow=fields of white=negative space=plain paper=a good thing.

- Find a suitable location, arrange the E-S-C-A-P-E letters, take some photographs from different angles.

- Take some pictures of the Fontaines balancing on a rusted pipe looking sporty. Talk about the shoes each of you are wearing that belong to Kim and how you feel like different people in shoes that aren't yours.

- Follow as the Fontaines continue to walk and find another spot to place the letters.

-See an ideal location, this time with more snow (more snow= more white space=more paper=less of a border from the print shop because they can't print full bleed).

- Fall through some loose snow and into some mud. Feel bad about making Kim's Nikes dirty.

- Look back to the ideal spot, bend down and lean forward to place the letters, then take some photos.

- Try to walk through as much clean snow as possible to clean the mud from the soles of Kim's Nikes.


- Plug your iPhone into your computer and download photos to iPhoto.

- Choose two of your favorite photos and print them.

- Bring them to the Fontaines' house so they can make you dinner while you make the cover.

- Cut out A-C-T-U-A-L-L-Y P-E-O-P-L-E from one of the photos.

- Place the letters on the the print of the other photo.

- Feel happy about that place where the A and the two E's blend into the black of the foliage in the background image.

- Write WINTER 2013 on the bottom of the cover.

- Turn on the overhead light and take photos.

- Email yourself the picture that you like.

- Turn the photo black and white with photoshop and increase the contrast; play with the brightness.

- Decide you don't like the placement of the WINTER 2013 type and cut and paste it to the back of the cover, inverting the image so that it becomes a black background with white letters.

- Try to see as if you are looking at it for the first time.

- Email it to the Fontaines.

2. Describe your decision-making, how you prioritized one thing over another.

The whole process is a series of quick decisions responding to a ever changing environments which get more and more specific; macro to micro; the location of Park City Utah, inside or outside, knowledge of printing processes, the lack of materials, textures present, composition, balance, and then the computer work: contrast and brightness, composition and balance and fine tuning any typography.

3. How do you decide when something is finished?

If you've followed this process of not over-thinking things but making sure there is balance along the way you end up with what you end up with and there are no more decisions to be made.

Posted on September 30, 2014 .