Great minds think alike, damn it

coverimageThere I am at my office mailbox, innocently sorting the new issues of university magazines that have just come in, when Notre Dame Magazine catches my eye with a black-and-white, pen-and-ink cover of some sort. Closer inspection reveals that it’s a special, peel-away cover that’s meant to be colored. (Underneath is the same cover art on the magazine’s standard glossy cover stock.) What could be the occasion, I asked myself. Why, Notre Dame has devoted its spring issue to fun. It’s a theme issue, The Fun Issue!

jhmAt which point I began cursing because the forthcoming issue of Johns Hopkins Magazine, which goes to press in 15 working days, will be a theme issue. Uh-huh. The Fun Issue. And the cover concept that the art director favors? Yep. That’s a concept composite on the right.

Damn you, Kerry Temple.

bisonAnd that’s not all. I peruse the spring edition of Bucknell Magazine, and there, between pages 32 and 33, is a perfed, tear-ou,t color-it-yourself drawing of a bison (Bucknell sports teams are the bison, don’t you know), for the magazine’s coloring contest. Entries due May 11.

What is it with you people? Now my art director needs a new cover concept, and I have to prove that Johns Hopkins is more fun than Notre Dame. Jeesh. Making my life more difficult for no damn reason…


  1. Lori Oliwenstein

    Ha! But also, really on changing your cover? And, if so, why? Do you think you share a lot of readers with Notre Dame? I ask because I’ve been in a similar place with my friend and colleague at USC’s Trojan Family magazine, and I’ve never had it change any of my decisions. Now I’m wondering: should I?

  2. Wayne Steffen

    Keep it as it is—no one outside the biz will know…or care. (I hear The Dale rumbling, “I’ll know,” but I still wouldn’t change it.

  3. Jennings

    I’m with Wayne and Lori on this. To steal your words—put your readers first. If you thought it was the best cover concept for your readers, then that hasn’t changed just because Notre Dame has done something similar for their readers. As Lori points out, how much overlap is there?

    And as Wayne points out, the only folks who will notice and/or care are the very select few of us who work in this niche of a field. And our opinion shouldn’t matter when compared with your readers’.

    Now, if you think that Notre Dame executed the idea better than you did and you are inspired to do better, then consider this a reprieve to re-work the concept. But I wouldn’t abandon the concept if you felt it was right to begin with.



  4. Bryan Gentry

    I agree that there is no need to change a magazine cover just because it is no longer as original as you first thought. But maybe discovering that our concept is less than original might also mean that we have selected something too obvious, too cliche, or not unique enough. If several other university magazines are doing something, how many magazines outside the university sphere might be doing the same thing?

    Also, don’t we include other university magazine editors in our audience, maybe more often than we should? We want our magazines to stand out when they’re lined up in stacks at CASE conferences and when they arrive on a contest judge’s desk.

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