PHASE 1: LIVING ROOM FLOOR
The original two covers with the diagonal from top left corner to bottom right were set intentionally to cover faces of the people on front. For me, it is really important to not have a face be associated with the brand. Or maybe worse, plastering a celebrity on the front, glittering and airbrushed, attracting people to flip through ads inside. I wanted the brand to stand on it’s own from the beginning, and also have the reader feel like they could easily be the cover girl/guy.
But with the new reprints going on shelves, if the mag is behind one in a line up, all that will peep out of the top of the cover would be a diagonal “the”. So we had to rework it. But I still wanted the models to be somewhat anonymous, covered faces or features not so obvious.
I took out my pens and went through seven different font options and ten different title placements, back and forth over text with my graphic designer, wizard, and confidant, Michelle. We finally arrived on the text design of having just “MESSY” at the top, big, bold, and easy to spot on a rack, and then the “HEADS” at the bottom, an added bonus for when you actually pull the mag off the shelf. We tested it with a plethora of colors and sample images. I sketched poses for the Self Issue (Me, My Mess, and I) and Rebel Rebel, in-between 1 and 2 am and my second cup of black coffee.
PHASE 2: BRAINSTORMING IN BROOKLYN
On a somewhat-sunny winter day in Brooklyn, Cyb and I grabbed our notebooks and went down to Devocion, a spot flooded with light and yellow cups filled with espresso. A huge skylight splits the ceiling wide open, and brick walls border the place with a wall of plants in the back. So inviting and intoxicating and the perfect place to type away, which left all of the tables filled with people doing just that. We cut our losses and cupped black coffee and sat outside at the round wrought iron tables.
I pulled out my phone and slid some photos around with my thumb to try and convey to Paige what I wanted to capture in the new covers. I fumbled around with my words and my hands and got down on the ground to show the sort of pose that I wanted Yazzy to be in (it ended up not working out, but we got something better.)
But ultimately, Paige (@paigemaccready) is an instinctual photographer and shoots her photos like she is running a race. On her toes, out of breath, and full of adrenaline. There’s no real way to plan images like that, so I had to plan the models and the outfits. Moving on to…
PHASE 3: MIMOSAS AND METALLIC DRESSES
For the Self issue, I had a vision of a blue sky with a mirror reflecting back towards the viewer, a look into the self from the get go. The outfit concept was more vague to me, I just wanted colors that would make Yazzy’s red mane part of the color palette. My friend Ali hooked it up with a vintage store in Brooklyn, The Break. We went in before opening and were greeted by Ali in a big sweatshirt, cowboy boots, and tired eyes, with a whole rack of clothing options pulled for us to flip through and try.
Blood Orange’s album played in the background and as we waited for Yazz to try on the options, we were poured mimosas around the little coffee table. We settled on a metallic silver dress, sixties shift style but shorter and impactful. I pictured the clouds and blue skies echoing in the fabric. Yazzy also has a TON of brightly colored, wacky patterned, fuzzy furry, beaded, and fishnet things to add to our options.
For Franklin, I just wanted him in Makeout America, because it spoke enough to the Rebel concept. Him wearing his own clothing line and being an empowered, developing artist owning his own work was exactly what I wanted. I painted his nails two days before the shoot so that they would be naturally chipped for the cover. (he typically wears black polish, but all we have around the house is red nail polish and the bottle has been passed around by all of my friends by now it’s kind of a signature thing.)
PHASE 4: HOPPING AROUND ON ROOFTOPS
An early shoot time and an hour transit ride. I got Franklin and Cyb black coffees before we even got out the door to try and perk them up. It was chilly outside and we linked arms waiting outside of Paige’s apartment.
We somehow all rendezvoused at the right time, clamoring up the stairs to get on the roof. As I positioned Yazzy against the sky and pulled up her suede boots, Ali was downstairs laying out more outfits to try. Paige got into the zone and I played the White Stripes as loud as I could on my phone and tucked it into my front overall pocket. Cyb filmed behind the scenes clips, I positioned the reflector, Paige snapped away, and Yazzy strongly struck a pose.
For Franklin’s, we put him in front of a yellow door and got his shot in less than a few frames, but messed around with more angles and images that are now inside the pages of Rebel Rebel.
Scroll to see the outtakes, video, and ultimately… the new covers.
And comment below what you think 🙂