35 Years of RDA Covers


Steven Brower: In 1986 I was a student in Milton Glaser’s “Design and Personality” class at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. We were given weekly assignments that not only challenged our abilities as designers but also as individuals.

One weeks’ assignment (which I have used in my classes ever since) was to project five years ahead, and to write a diary entry as to what I was doing that day five years hence and to create an example of what I would be working on. At the time I was working in the art bullpen of a mass-market book publisher, my first “big” job, having graduated with my design degree two years prior.

Projecting ahead to 1991 I tried to imagine at once the highest pinnacle I could achieve while at the same time never believing for a moment I ever would. I had a subscription to PRINT, my favorite design magazine, and always admired their creative covers.

The PRINT Regional Design Annual covers, art directed by Andrew Kner, were among the best. Top designers and illustrators were invited to create their idea of what it means to be in a premier design annual. What an honor! I could not imagine a more remote possibility for myself.

I created a cover (which I only vaguely recall) and presented it to the class while reading my “diary” out loud. I didn’t give it much thought afterward.

Things moved ahead career wise. I was featured in an article in PRINT and then two years later, in 1994 then editor Julie Lasky asked me to participate in their second parody issue (the first was published in 1984). I submitted a few covers and one was chosen, a parody of Benetton ads and their creative director, photographer Oliveri Toscani, who graciously agreed to grant us permission to use his image.

Cut ahead to 1999 and I was hired to redesign PRINT and become their new art director and eventually creative director. I left in 2004.

PRINT is celebrating their 75th anniversary and 35 years of the Regional Design Annual. They have created an online exhibit of all the covers to date at http://www.printmag.com/imprint/35-years-of-rda-covers/. I am honored to have four of my covers among the myriad others, and deeply touched that they used my 911 response cover as the image to promote the online gallery. That image of a broken heart was created and shipped to the printer on 9/13/01, replacing one that was ready to go that Monday prior. Almost the entire PRINT staff were in NYC and together during that terrible day.

My favorite covers still remain the ones that came before my time, art directed by Andy, when PRINT was a bigger format. And speaking of big, that is actually the point. Dream big! Positively project! Never in a million years did I ever imagine my work would grace the covers of such an exalted publication. OK, it took a little more than 5 years, but work hard and learn your craft and you can get what you wish for, even if you don’t believe it in the first place.

Steven Brower is an Assistant Professor of Art at Marywood University and the Director for the Get Your Masters with the Masters, MFA Graphic Design & Illustration Program at Marywood


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