Thursday, June 6, 2013

Mormon TIME Magazine Cover Revisited

With a new Ai WeiWei designed cover for TIME magazine gaining some attention as the "Most Beautiful Cover We've Ever Done", it's time to revisit my post on the least beautiful TIME cover of all time, from just 8 months ago -

You Decide  - Ugliest to "Most Beautiful" in eight months?
A side by side comparison of Time magazine covers, October 2012 and June 2013
As for the new Ai WeiWei designed cover, I think it's very nice looking but strangely nonpolitical, especially considering the design is by Ai WeiWei, the most famous artist involved in political activism in China today. WeiWei is currently under some kind of house arrest, though still doing lots of interviews. Curious.

The following is the 'Mormon TIME Cover' post published October 2012, recreated here -

Glass circles have been abuzz over this Time magazine cover for a few weeks, and not in a happy way.


No professional stained artist is flattered or happy about this.

As for me - Why do I hate this so much? 2 reasons.

First, it perpetuates the false idea that "stained glass = religion" by using a stained glass window as a generic symbol for religion. I've written of this before when Florida proposed doing a Christian license plate, using a stained glass window to symbolize religion. I don't like it when I see art directors lazily throw in a stained glass window to bring religion to mind.
The second reason this upsets stained glass professionals has to do with the design itself. Initially, the clunky mosaic style design and the way the texture in the borders is handled had me thinking this was one of the many faux stained glass designs you see throughout the internet, usually done in photoshop. That would have been bad enough, since it's so ungainly, but it turns out to be a real stained glass window. To professionals actually working in stained glass this is a real head shaker.

So, to get this straight -
1) In order to gain some sort of 'authenticity', Time magazine decides to do a cover illustration about "Mitt Romney and Religion" by creating an actual stained glass window with Mitt Romney incorporated in it. Perpetuating the idea of "stained glass = religion", but at least using real stained glass. Okay.
2) But instead of getting an actual stained glass designer or maker to create the window, they go to a prop and set designer to design and fabricate the window. One with no previous experience designing or fabricating stained glass windows.
3) She apparently does not consult or seek advice from any stained glass designer, nor even do any research on real stained glass windows as far as can tell. Finally, she does such an amateurish and hamfisted job at designing and making the window that it ends up looking like a crappy photoshop faux stained glass design after all.
4) But at least they get their point across. It's a stained glass window, and therefore about religion.

Wow. I know the state of magazine illustration (and journalism) has gone down in the past 20 years or so, but this is a new low. I keep having to remind myself that this was done for a nationally published magazine. My annoyance may come from the "stained glass = religion" thing, but the real astonishment comes from just how cheap and shoddy the execution was on this illustration.

In conclusion -
1) If you have the idea (and a fine idea it is) to use a stained glass window as an illustration on a magazine cover, get a real stained glass artist to do it, or at least have the designer do some solid research before they design it. Otherwise, it makes stained glass look bad in general and you look particularly amateurish.
2) Not all stained glass artists will agree with me on this, but stop using stained glass windows as a generic symbol for religion. Stained glass has a great history of design that is not neccessarily religious. For myself, I refuse to be pigeon holed by small minded art editors, ill educated art directors or lazy designers.

end of recreated blog post