by Kate Newton
When a cover of a publication is circulating the Internet under headlines touting it as “incredible,” “beautiful” and even“perfect” before the issue is released, it’s a pretty good indication that your designers have done something right.
When Boston Magazine released the above image - its May cover - this morning, the response from not only the Boston community, but the entire nation, was immediate. Emotions continue to run high now over a week after the bombings, and the image (shot by photographer Mitchell Feinberg) resonated strongly with runners still recovering from the event that prompted them to donate the very items that may have carried them to safety: the shoes they wore that day, many of which did not cross the finish line.
Boston Magazine’s editor-in-chief, John Wolfson, gave some background in an editorial today into the effort required of his staff to pull off the cover in a matter of days, and the inspiration behind the design:
Our design director, Brian Struble, and deputy design director, Liz Noftle, came up with the concept of taking shoes worn during the marathon and arranging them so that the negative space is in the shape of a heart. For reasons I’ll explain in a moment, I knew as soon as I heard the idea that we had our concept—not just for the collection of essays, but also for the cover. In fact, I quickly realized that the stories of the runners who wore those shoes would be even more powerful than the essays we’d commissioned. We quickly changed course and settled on the cover concept and the outlines of a feature package: We’d shoot the shoes collectively to form the heart, but we’d also photograph them as individual pairs to illustrate the stories told by the runners in the package...
That package, titled “The Shoes We Wore,” will feature interviews with 15 owners of the pairs of shoes in the print issue, with the remaining owners of the “100 or so shoes” getting a chance to tell their story on the publication’s website. The idea then evolved to be even more inclusive of runners from outlying areas who didn’t get a chance to participate in the cover image, Wolfson said:
We then decided to add an additional wrinkle of complexity to the whole thing: We would create a special page on the site where the overflow photos and stories would live, and where people from around the world could submit their own stories and photographs of their shoes. (That page—bostonmagazine.com/shoes—will go live starting Tuesday, April 30.)
Wolfson also had some closing words in the editorial regarding the personal meaning of the final image:
To me the cover is about two things: perseverance and unity. By itself, each shoe in the photograph is tiny, battered, and ordinary. Together, though, they create something beautiful, powerful, and inspirational. Remove just one shoe and you begin to diminish, in some small way, the overall effect. Collectively, they are the perfect symbol for Boston, and for our response to the bombings.
The May issue will hit newsstands tomorrow, and the magazine is already responding to requests for a poster version. Wolfson intends for proceeds from the posters to go towards The One Fund Boston, which as of Thursday afternoon had raised over $24 million to support “the people most affected” by the bombings on April 15.