The Time Covers of Arthur Hochstein, Pt. 1: Tim O'Brien

The Time Covers of Arthur Hochstein, Pt. 1: Tim O'Brien The next SPD Speakeasy features former Time art director Arthur Hochstein discussing 1000 Covers: Thinking Inside the (Red) Box, on October 27, at 7pm. Arthur was the art director at Time for 15 years, where he designed 1000 covers, and he'll be discussing the good ones (and the bad, and the ugly) and much more. This is going to be a great behind-the-scenes art of magazine cover-making evening, with much fun and learning guaranteed!

As a run-up to the 1000 Covers evening, we've asked a number of photographers, illustrators, and designers who worked with Arthur on Time covers to discuss their images and the process involved. First up is illustrator Tim O'Brien, who illustrated over a dozen covers for Time while Arthur was art director.

(Above) Time, November 4, 1996. Art director: Arthur Hochstein, illustration: Tim O'Brien.


(Above): Time, November 10, 2008. Art director: Arthur Hochstein, illustrator: Tim O'Brien.

Tim O'Brien: I had the good fortune to work with Arthur Hochstein while he was at Time. Our collaboration began in 1989 and continued to his last year there. Arthur trusted me with a shot at numerous covers, and I think he thought me reliable, consistent, and of course, fast.

The most memorable covers were the portraits of politicians. Of that group, the purity of the 1996 Clinton vs. Dole cover stands out. Often covers can become "kitchen sink" situations--too many elements. Arthur understands that a powerful portrait often says much more than a conceptual cover, and started to use me that way from this cover going forward. I would get to do many covers in this pure manner, and owe much of that to Arthur for leading the way.

Time ran the artwork without any type other than the headline "The Choice." They returned to this approach one more time, in 2008, with Obama vs. McCain. Arthur and I worked together so long, and I feel that these two covers are bookends to our great collaboration.

A call from Arthur is like 10,000 volts of electricity.

Arthur Hochstein: Tim was our Ghostbusters portraitist: Who you gonna call, when you are in a total jam? His technique allows him to paint realistic paintings in an extraordinarily short time. He can also make mid-course adjustments better than other realistic painters. Tim has the skill and creativity--and drive--to pull rabbits out of a hat in a way that virtually no one else can, which makes him invaluable to a deadline-driven publication such as TIme. And there was never one kvetch--not one!--no matter what hoops we asked him to jump through.

It's interesting that he credits me for telling him to be more purely a portraitist and less conceptual. Years earlier I gave him the exact opposite advice, because his work was so photorealistic that I said, "Why wouldn't I just use a photo?" Different times, different circumstances. But each time it worked out for his career because it broadened his palette.

Related stories:
Arthur Hochstein's 15 Favorite Time Magazine Covers

Still need to RSVP for Arthur, Matt Mahurin, and more on October 27th? Do that here:

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