Joe Heroun, art director for The New Republic, has provided observations on some of the
magazine's '08 campaign covers:
Issued dated Nov. 5, 2008 - Obama
and TNR logos
We've done so many Obama cover portraits, we needed something
different. Illustration wouldn't seem important enough and a
photo would be too strident and fawning.
The blue O has become a powerful graphic symbol possessing the clarity
and economy of Milton Glaser's heart of the I Love New York logo.
That new icon merging with the old TNR symbol conveyed the right
message, like a mind-meld. 10/20/2008 e-mail
Issue dated April 9, 2008 - Merges Clinton and Obama Regarding the cover, the discussion
started with the idea that Democrats seem to want it both ways.
Hence the idea of morphing the two.
I immediately went to artist Nancy Burson, whom I knew from the 1980s
as someone who pioneered software specially for that purpose. She
had created works that morphed world leaders Reagan, Brezhnev, and
Thatcher in a piece called Warheads, and one which combined the seven
most beautiful women in the world, among others.
She sold the software to the FBI and has used it for police departments
across the country to help locate missing persons by determining how
they've aged. And for me she recently created a depiction of what
Brad and Angelina's daughter would look like as an adolescent (don't
The TNR cover was a mix of 50 percent of both people. We decided
upfront that Hillary's hair would have to dominate, but other than that
the face is strictly a combination of the two. It's not as if we
took parts from one and the other like Mr. Potatohead. The
software makes the calculations, much like two parents' DNA. It was a
very straightforward process.
We've had more media attention from this cover than any we've ever
done. All the blogs were on fire. Politico.com, Huff Post,
Wonkette, and others had it on their homepage and even CNN's Campbell
Brown featured it on her show.
>Follow up question: Why
Hillary's hair? Answer:
"Because that would appear more ambiguous than his hair, which would
have entirely read male.")
Issue dated July 23, 2007
We used the Law & Order imagery inside, but in both cases the
intention was to convey the uber-manliness impression he makes with
everyone. The good ole boy thing brings that down to
street-level. The author, Michelle Cottle, has witnessed him
engaging in that schtick. In one instance, she reports, he left an
appearance by driving away in a pickup, only to transfer to a waiting
Lexus a few blocks away. So the subtext of the cover was that he
cultivates a false image of being an average guy, just like Reagan's
The picture was not created from photo reference.
Issue dated March 19, 2007
Barack Obama - "The Agitator"
note this issue marked a new format for TNR's and a move from a
weekly to a bi-weekly
For the cover art, we had commissioned three artists to do portraits of
Obama. We have more pieces about him upcoming and decided on the
one that best fit the current profile. In all three cases we were
interested in less conventional artists and ones who either straddled
the line between the so-called 'fine art' world and commercial
illustration or were fully outside the commercial realm. We felt
that that would indicate a more decisive break with the past.
The artist we went with, Dana Schutz, is a rising star in the gallery
scene and whose works are commanding six-figure sums. We had
arranged for her to be present during the final interview with Obama at
his office in the Senate. The idea was that, rather than simply
work from photographic reference, we wanted to expose her to the actual
person to get a personal, innate sense of who he is. She sketched
on site and the cover is a result of that personal interaction.
We did not direct or load her up with imperatives. The resulting
portrait, for better or worse, is devoid of an editorial point of view,
which is quite unusual for TNR or its ilk. It is simply one
artist's personal expression of the subject, influenced by a brief
interaction with him.
Issue dated Jan. 22, 2007
John Edwards - "The Accidental Populist"
The cover story is about how Edwards has staked out a tougher,
pro-union, populist stance and so our initial inspiration was to
characterize him in a heroic Socialist Realist style. It wasn't
the New Orleans trip per se, but the sum of several such
appearances. Artist David Brinley came to mind because of his
brilliantly wry execution of Kim Jong-Il for the cover of The Times
Magazine. We didn't quite achieve that level, but it has the
Issue dated Dec. 16, 2006 Sam
Brownback - "The Apostle"
As for the Brownback cover, I chose Marc Burckhardt for his early 20th
century American folk art style. It has empathy and warmth, like that
of artist Grant Wood, an American artist from the Twenties and
Thirties. Marc's directives were to portray Brownback as the
embodiment of wholesome Midwestern values and to reflect the importance
of spirituality in his life as he positions himself for the GOP
presidential nomination. Surprisingly non-acerbic for us, right?
Marc works in acrylic on wood and uses varnishes for an aged
effect. His first sketch nailed it and went to final without any
changes. You can see more of Marc's work at www.marcart.net.