The British Library plays host Revolutionary Magazine Covers panel

Louisa Cavell

Last night Hearst’s ex-Editorial Director Ian Birch hosted a panel of some of the publishing world’s most well-known faces to discuss his new book Uncovered: Revolutionary Magazine Covers – The inside stories told by the people who made them.

Birch was joined on stage by The Big Issue’s Paul McNamee, The Gentlewoman’s Penny Martin and Creative Director Robin Derrick.

Each member of the panel spoke about which magazine covers had inspired them and which of their own covers they were most proud of. Each member of the panel presented an array of some of the most recognisable, as well as forgotten gems of covers from days gone by.

Highlights included imagery focused around 9/11 and the discourse of reporting historical events, as well as a particularly memorable cover from American publication National Lampoon and a masterclass in how to ignore the “rules” of making a stand-out cover.

On whether there was a standard formula to making a cover work, McNamee alluded to the success of The Big Issue’s cover featuring Street Cat Bob. He joked that he had not envisaged a cat to be such a big part of the success of his magazine but added, “if the cat works for you, stick the cat on the cover”.

McNamee also made reference to The Big Issue's PPA Cover of the Year award-winning cover featuring an amputee which is pictured below, left. 

Big Issue for radar

“It was a wonderful evening,” said PPA CEO Barry McIlheney,” and one that showed the enduring power of magazines to inspire, to entertain, and to change the conversation.”

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