Richard Turley's Top Six Magazine Covers

Cover Boy

Monday, July 9th, 2012

By John Dugan

Richard Turley may post his favorite rock videos on his Tumblr account, but the Brit also happens to be a bit of a rockstar himself, at least in the magazine design world. In 2010, a veteran designer with the Guardian and its G2 section, was brought in to helm the relaunch of Bloomberg Businessweek in 2011. With its new Helvetica logo in place, the business mag celebrates the glories of print each week in cheeky, bold but easy-to-skim design. We asked the Liverpool Art School-educated Creative Director what makes a great cover design and more. 

What makes a great magazine cover?  
Ideas. Surprise. Bravery. Originality. If you have more than one then it starts to become much more interesting.

What makes a poor one?  
Perceived notions of what a magazine cover should be and a fear of messing with that formula. Also, dead-eyed girls in bikinis.  

Are there any simple rules you follow?  
I don't move the logo much. 

Is humor a key element in cover design?  
For me, absolutely. But not just in the covers, everywhere, I hope. If you make someone smile, they lower their defenses a bit and let you inside their head, which is the place I want to be. 


Turley's Top Six 

November, 2001
“Deadening, simplistic futility. The only sensible response to having a little bit of power is to poke fun at those whose faith in the system remains strong.”

September, 1965
“It seems kind of churlish to not include one of George Lois' covers, because he changed everything. This one is a bit 'graphic design' but, really, I could have chosen any of them.”

No.11, Travel Special, June-August, 1995
“I love this cover—a travel issue that begins with a plane crash. It fulfills all the criteria doesn't it? Simple, original, surprising and brave. And its funny too.”

New York Magazine
March 24, 2008
“Just as its silly to leave out George Lois, it's dumb to leave New York Magazine off this list. This magazine changed me — changed the way I understood how magazines could work. So I'm putting this in, more to represent the magazine as a whole, but this cover by Barbara Kruger is an instant classic.”

Dazed and Confused
August, 1997
“Scratch off the panel. You win if you get her topless. Losers got two 'Xs' over her chest. A really cheap, nasty joke that makes you feel a bit dirty and exploited.”

Ray Gun Issue 27
May, 1995
“I have a real affection for David Carson, where others I think are repelled. I grew up in the era of Raygun and the 'End of Print,' so this magazine and Carson's approach is hard wired into me.”

Esquire cover image courtesy George Lois; Sleazenation inset photo by Wolfgang Tillmans; New York Magazine cover copyright Barbara Kruger, courtesy of the Mary Boone Gallery, New York and New York Magazine; Raygun image courtesy Jaap Biemans,, and Joe Kral; Richard Turley:;

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