David Airey is an independent graphic designer working with companies of all sizes since 2005.

TIME cover designs: USA vs rest of the world

Time magazine covers

How different is graphic design in the United States from the rest of the world?

This week, TIME Magazine’s US cover features a story about whether or not the Bible should be taught in school. It’s international editions feature a different story however — that of Talibanistan.

Apparently Rick Stengel et al. believe the US cover will make a better newsstand impression.

These TIME cover designs (below) follow a similar episode from October of last year. The international Newsweek community were reading about the rise of Jihadistan. The US readers were perusing an exclusive on Annie Leibovitz titled ‘My Life in Pictures’.

Newsweek covers

The covers came in for some criticism on Huffington Post (update: link since broken and removed).

Do you think TIME should be criticised?

Read the full article at the following link from Eat The Press: TIME Joins Newsweek In Thinking That Americans Really, Really Don’t Care About Afghanistan (update: link since broken and removed).

Update: 28 November 2011
TIME magazine covers: worldwide differences.

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15 appreciated comments about “TIME cover designs: USA vs rest of the world”

  1. That’s interesting. I had no idea the US was so different from the others. I really didn’t think about it at all.

    I think the US just wants to stick to things US related to make everyone forget what’s really going on in the world.

    About the design though, that first one with the Bible is terrible.

  2. It’s too bad everything these days has something to do with politics. I don’t think TIME or any other magazine should “hide” reality from the U.S. masses. Isn’t their job as a news publication to bring people the news?! But I agree the alternate cover designs are ugly.

  3. The US covers are not very appealing. They look like gossip magazine designs. Not that I read those, you know, you can’t but help see them at all the grocery stores. I only read deep philosophical material. :) Honest!

  4. I think this has less to do with comapring graphic design, as it does comparing different editorial over the continents.

    The US editor of Time will pick a cover story that will sell magazines. The issue of whether religion should be taught in schools is a very hot topic in the US, whereas in the rest of the world (or at least europe) people dont really care.

    Time is a US magazine so it is the international editors that have changed the cover story, not the other way round.

  5. Wow I had no idea that major news magazines were offering different news to the U.S. than to everywhere else. I guess this is the dumbing down of America.

    Design wise, I wonder what the difference is today. I’m located in Canada – right across the river from Detroit. Retro design is popular to a degree. What about Britain, Europe and Australia – Is pop art retro in your design stables? If not what trends are you seeing?

  6. To me, that is like censorship in a way. It’s not that they can’t design a good cover or choose a fine photograph like they did for the rest of the world.. but it’s that image – most Americans would instantly associate a middle eastern looking guy to a terrorist. And many families who still have their sons fighting in Iraq would not like to see that.

    It’s politics – not aesthetics here.

  7. David – Very interesting observation. I think design in America is going down hill personally. It seems creative expression is for the few. – Mike

  8. Like the other people commenting I am amazed at the difference in covers, but then the USA do seem a lot more into sensorship than other coutries. For example the Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake Superbowl incident, caused huge uproar there whereas in the Uk it would have been all over the tabloids for a few days laughed about and then forgotten.

  9. I agree, Tara. I was surprised at the attention given to Jackson and Timberlake. Ridiculously over-the-top.

  10. Sadly, I would agree that the majority of Americans see Middle Eastern people as terrorists before anything else. I was actually thinking of this the other day while watching the evening news. In the last 5 or 6 years, maybe even more than that, the only images I’ve ever seen of that region are of riots and violence. I’m not dense and I understand that they are just isolated incedents and the majority of the people living there are just every day folks trying to provide for their families and make it through. However, if your only sending one image and one story, eventually that’s going to be the public opinion.

    As far as design in America, we have great design, it’s just a little thinner in our country. I think we want things faster and our pace of life seems more intense than other countries. Design usually gets put aside for impossible deadlines and flash-pan information. I would say the general public in America has a far less appreciation for design than in Europe and Asia.

  11. Nate, thanks for dropping in. I hope you’ve been keeping well these days.

    That’s a sad read about the US view on people from the Middle-East. The media can claim a large part of the responsibility for that.

  12. At some point our fear of middle-easterners spread to include anyone who might look vague muslim (including Sikhs). By hiding their coverage of far-off places in favor of subjects americans already pay attention to, we do ourselves a great disservice.

  13. The USA does some things very well, others not so well, its advertising is still the class leader when it comes to creative awards. Branding they are not so far ahead if at all and packaging they are woefully behind Europe. It all depends what market you are looking at. A lot of brands are designed globally and have similar designs, even though they may have different brand names (like AXE which is called lynx in the UK for instance). As for the magazine covers, Im not too impressed with my trips to the USA and the magazine racks, but perhaps I was there on an unlucky month. OF course the covers will be different from region to region, even album covers were different. Even the beatles abum covers were different until help,revolver and sgt pepper appeared on each side of the Atlantic.

  14. That’s interesting about the Beatles’ album covers being different.

    Interested to know how effective the deodorant is when using AXE instead of Lynx. The latter sounds a more compelling brand name to me.

  15. I had an idea on par of the countries US was greatest in any field, I really think about it at all. and also on par of the magazines Time is a perfect magazine for everyone. Time’s a US magazine so it’s the international editors that have changed the cover story, not the other way round. The US editor of Time will pick a cover story that will sell magazines. The issue of whether religion should be taught in schools is a very hot topic in the US, whereas in the rest of the world (or at least europe) people dont really care.
    I think this has less to do with comapring graphic design, as it does comparing different editorial over the continents.

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