Smart alternative weekly covers from Westword
Jay Vollmar has been the art director of Westword for 10 years. Check out his website here. Vollmar comes from a rock poster background (his website has examples of his highly-cool poster work). He describes his cover design process: "I usually apply the same principles to Westword covers as I do to poster projects. It starts with trying to boil a story down to its basics and then illustrate that in a simple image that can grab you from across the street. I just try to basically capture the vibe of a story much like I do with a band, the specific lyrics, words or details aren't as important or workable as the overall theme."
Like his fellow art directors at alt weeklies Riverfront Times and the Dallas Observer (see previous SPD posts), Vollmar is self-creating the best of his covers, with a mix of stock imagery, highly-art directed photography, and his own illustration. His covers are a weekly series of gig posters as publication design, drive-by graphics for quick and immediate attraction and consumption. They're smart, original, high-energy, and incredibly engaging; this is publication cover design at its best.
We've got 10 of the best recent covers from Westword and Jay Vollmar, on the following page.
(Cover above): October 20, 2009. Photograph by Anthony Camera, photo illustration by Jay Vollmar. The cover story is about a controversial Denver bill that targets unlicensed drivers and sells their cars at auction.
(Left): April 13, 2008. Photo illustration by Jay Vollmer. (Right): April 24, 2008. Illustration by Jay Vollmar.
Jay Vollmar: "We'd run stories on the Colorado Rockies before when they were a bad team. The covers would usually be Three Stooges-esque, with a ball hitting a guy in the face or something. But with the Rockies coming off an improbably appearance in the World Series, we need a heroic representation of manly baseball feats! [Cover right]: Denver had been getting a lot of press in the runup to the Democratic National Convention, and it seemed that a lot of people thought we sit around eating Rocky Mountain Oysters, aka deep fried bulls balls."
(Left): May 22, 2008. Illustration by Jay Vollmar. (Right): July 2, 2009. Photographs by Anthony Camera, photo illustration by Jay Vollmar.
The cover on the left is about a bird that is at risk of extinction; cover on the right is about incompetence in a local coroner's office.
(Left): October 23, 2008. Photographs by Jupiter Images, photo illustration by Jay Vollmar. (Right): November 15, 2007. Photographs by Mark Manger.
Cover left is a profile of a sanctuary for abused big cats; cover right is about prisoners being exposed to asbestos and other toxins in an old prison.
(Left): November 19, 2009. Photographs by Jupiter Images, photo illustration by Jay Vollmar. (Right): August 13, 2009. Photographs by Jupiter Images, photo illustration by Jay Vollmar.
Jay Vollmar: "The story [cover right] was about the 20th anniversary of the closing of a controversial nuclear weapons factory west of Denver. The place was so polluted when it was shut down that I figured you'd probably need to dress like this to go to any type of anniversary celebration."
(Left): August 27. 2009. Photograph and illustration by Jay Vollmar. (Right): October 8, 2009. Photographs by Anthony Camera; stock photographs from Jupiter Images, photo illustration by Jay Vollmar.
Jay Vollmar: "This cover [right] was about the local division of Raytheon that runs reasearch facilities in Antarctica. Obviously getting a photographer down there wasn't going to happen so we photographed a guy in winter gear that I put on top of an ice cube."