Shortlist: Cover of the Year

by Grace Wang in November 2016
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Art & design Update

This category for the Stack Awards was the second most popular amongst publishers — the first of course, is Mag of the Year (watch out for our focus on those titles coming on Thursday). We received almost 60 entries across a diverse range of magazines, and putting the age-old cliche to the side for a minute, these magazines will absolutely be judged by their covers.

To take on this difficult task, we’ve enlisted the help of Jaap Biemans, founder of (which is currently featuring a great selection of post-election covers) and Steven Heller, former art director of the New York Times Book Review and current co-chair of SVA’s MFA Design. Check out the selection below.

Adbusters Magazine | Vancouver
This 127th issue articulating the rise of Trump as a turn towards a kind of “cool fascism” couldn’t be more relevant today. “To those wishing it well, the magazine is one of the cornerstones of the Left, a wellspring of anti-authoritarian tools meant to revive progressive activism and shake things up for the greater good.” — Read more about this anti-consumerist publication on Alternet.


Ambrosia | New York
This cover image, seemingly of a kale leaf, is a 20-ingredient tasting menu dish employing complex and time-intensive techniques and flavours. Created by food writer Adam Goldberg, who is also the founder of food blog A Life Worth Eating and coffee magazine Drift, Ambrosia is a food title that focuses on different local regions each issue. As he tells Eater, “We can never tell the story as accurately as a local. So we thought: Why not have locals tell the story themselves?”


Amuseum | London
A playful magazine that sees objects differently, Amuseum combines illustration with clever comics and curious trivia. This cover by illustrator Rami Neimi sees a tongue-in-cheek interpretation of Archimedes, the Ancient Greek mathematician in polka dot stockings, showing off smoking-hot thighs.


Boat Magazine | Los Angeles
A magazine that physically moves to explore a different city each issue, Boat Magazine sets up their studios for a few weeks at each place to create the content with locals. The cover for their Havana issue features local jazz singer Dayme Arocena, whose joyous, infectious laugh has no doubt made the magazine jump off the newsstand.


Gentle Rain | Hamburg
This city mag showcases all the things to love about Germany’s second largest city, Hamburg. Godzilla and a raincoat-ed, cheerful woman grace the cover of its first issue, which also sees the tip of the new, best concert hall in Europe and a staircase designed by the office of Zaha Hadid. Hear them on Monocle’s magazine podcast, The Stack.


The Gentlewoman | London
The thick bordered portraits of The Gentlewoman’s covers have become synonymous with their ethos of celebrating women with purpose. Issue 14’s cover star Zadie Smith is photographed in fabulous technicolour by Inez & Vinoodg, on the occasion of her long-awaited new novel Swing Time.


The Gourmand | London
Shot by Harri Peccinotti, the legendary photographer famed for his 1960s Pirelli calendars, this cover is a prelude to a stunning photo series inside, which features a handful of (heart-achingly) crushed caviar. It’s a mag about food and culture that “looks good enough to eat” — Read more on It’s Nice That.


Krass Journal | Adelaide
“We think it’s very interesting to see how a publication that examines the topic of curiosity and deep conversation has managed to achieve typographic perfection.” — See more on People of Print. The typographic cover from issue two of the magazine features cover text by Sanja Grozdanic.


Ladybeard | London
As a direct reaction to glossy women’s magazines, this energising feminist title, which we sent to Stack subscribers, challenges traditional female ideals and offers bold perspectives that more accurately describe the young woman’s experience today. The Rampant Rabbit dildo cover of their Sex issue encapsulates this — surrounded by folds of pink silk (the origins of which you can find out about in our podcast) it plays with the viewer’s expectations and challenges their preconceptions, addressing female sexuality in an unapologetic way.


Lyra | London
The cover of this feminist title is still and evocative, echoing its content —thoughtful, insightful, personal, lyrical and at times erotic. As VICE explains, “Lyra Magazine Gives a Radical Perspective on Lust, Love and Sex”.


MC1R Magazine | Hamburg
Nothing says you’re a redhead more than ginger armpit hair. We have seen magazines dedicated to almost everything, until we came across MC1R, the publication focused on redhead culture. Find out more in editor Tristan Rodgers’ interview on i-D magazine.


Parterre de Rois | Milan
“Parterre de Rois is a really rich experience and repays continued flicking – an important part of how we read magazines that is often overlooked. It’s not super-cool or now-focussed, but timeless.” — Read more on magCulture. The pink wrap around cover for their Happiness-themed fourth issue is a handmade, home-scanned collage of ‘Happy Michael’ by Queenie Palmer, their epitome of a dark happiness.


The Pitchfork Review | Chicago
As an arm of the hugely successful online music magazine, The Pitchfork Review is a great piece of publishing about music and beyond (you can find out more in our podcast with the editors). For the cover of this festival-themed issue, they bought a 1979 Prevost Bus off Craiglist, drove it from Indiana to Chicago, then had local artists paint it. The entire process took four days and required the collaboration of 12+ people, making a great story (and cover!)


Printed Pages | London
I don’t think I’ve ever related to a puppet more, until watching the web series Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared when it came out in 2011. This cover, shot by Neil Bedford, captures the show’s iconic stars in charismatic poses, retaining their warmth seen onscreen. Created by the team at It’s Nice That, Printed Pages is a compendium of the best work and features on the website from the last six months.


ShellzuitZombie | London
“Shellsuit Zombie was founded in 2008 by a group of restless graduates as an ‘antidote to the existing design press’, and it set out to bring together advice and stories from renowned faces in the creative industry as well as young, unknown talent.” — read more on magCulture.


So It Goes | London
Eleven, or Stranger Things’ star Millie Bobby Brown, makes her magazine cover debut on this new title that champions original voices of today across actors, directors, artists, musicians and writers.


Unstate | Valencia
In the same way this audiovisual culture magazine stands up to the decline of printed paper and criticises the cult of self-centredness, the front and back cover of Unstate are intended to be just as uncomfortable for the conformist minds as the depiction of the Republic of Salo in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film.

Water Journal | London
This eerie, intriguing image was the most popular cover amongst Stack followers on Instagram so far this year. Through it, the publishers wanted to encapsulate the ethos of their magazine — a quiet exploration of all things water, uncovering its beauty and complexity.


Weapons of Reason | London
Made by the guys at Human After All, this magazine takes on the world’s biggest problems and aims to educate people, engage them emotionally and provoke action. Read more in our interview with editor Danny Miller. This cover of a blooming flower, with faces as the petals, echoes the theme of their New Old issue, which breathes new life into the discourse of ageing.


White Fungus | Taipei
White Fungus, now in its 15th issue, runs essentially the same cover each edition with no information as to what is inside. “The experimental magazine, produced by two brothers in Taiwan, focuses on art, history, music, politics and the spaces between.” — See more on VICE.


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