Computer Arts ‘New Talent’ Cover Competition
As a recent Graphic Design graduate (graduating in July 2015 from Leeds Uni), and subscriber of Computer Arts magazine; this year I wanted to try my chances in their annual cover contest, in partnership with D&AD New Blood. Now in its third year, the brief remains the same – ‘create an original cover illustration for Computer Arts’ New Talent special, our annual celebration of the best graduate talent from across the UK.’ (See the full brief here.)
Having missed out on entering last year’s competition (lets just say finishing uni was all too much and I ended up galavanting around Madrid), I soon regretted it while at the D&AD New Blood Festival last July, seeing all the of the finalists’ entries plastered up around their stand.
I had, however, thought about working my concept around the idea of ‘rising stars’ – and so this year, decided to pursue it.
My concept of constellations not only refers to the brief’s suggested theme of ‘rising stars’, but also alludes to the metaphor ‘written in the stars’ as if the new-bloods’ passion for design is in their destiny. The lonesome shooting star is implicit of those breaking the mould and standing out from the crowd. Subtle constellations also depict different creative disciplines in the background (i.e. illustration, photography, digital design), adding context to the idea of New Talent within the design industry.
One of the things I love most about Computer Arts magazine, particularly in respect of receiving the physical printed magazine through my door every month, is their creative, tactile covers – one of my favourites being the 20th anniversary special, featuring die-cut elements and different colour editions (see it here). They often use special print finishes, thanks to their partnership with printing firm Celloglas, and with every cover competition so far have made it a requirement to feature a special finish of your choice. This year was no exception, however, the print finish was already specified – pearlescent varnish.
I contacted Nick Carson (the magazine’s Editor) to find out more, and rather nicely got a prompt reply explaining that: “Shimmering reflective results are obtained by the very fine pearl pigment particles reflecting light at may different angles and seen as having a greater effect when applied to darker printed areas. The base colour of the pearl pigment can add a further dimension to the print – subtle changes in hue and increasing the vibrancy and depth of a printed item.”
With this in mind, I thought the perfect application for the varnish would be on the ‘stars’ themselves, particularly when contrasted against the dark background. The pearlescent varnish would be ‘spot’ on prominent stars (the ones in the constellations and the shooting star) making them, rather aptly, twinkle and shimmer. Light would therefore really bring the cover to life, reflecting an array of hues off the stars and highlighting the title. I additionally suggested that for digital versions of the magazine, the stars could be animated giving them the visual appearance of twinkling.
Of course, there is always room for improvement and, as stated in the brief, the entry only had to be a ‘sketch, scamp or mock up’. So I’d like to think of this as a first draft!
For example, the objects represented by constellations perhaps now seem to stand out a little less than I’d anticipated, although it was tricky to strike a balance between those and the title in order to make the title stand out and be legible. With more time, I’d also work on the background to create a more striking mix of colours for a really mystic space setting. The background could even be hand-processed, as I’ve experimented with space backgrounds in hand-painted watercolour before and got some impressive results. This would add another layer to the concept, representing the more craft disciplines of design and the balance between handmade and digital in our modern world.
So, fingers crossed for the shortlist as I’d love to take this further (plus receiving my own artwork on the magazine through the door would be pretty amazing). Any feedback/comments welcome!