I'm probably not supposed to tell you this, but discretion has never been one of my top virtues. (Many are of the opinion that I am virtue-free, but we're not having that discussion today). It has to do with the cover of Lighting Dimensions. Time after time, I am asked, why do you put such-and-such a project on the cover? Or better yet, why didn't you put such-and-such a project on the cover? Then there are those who lobby to get the cover — in this last year alone, various people have request, demanded, and tried to blackmail me into putting them on the cover. I should point out that, nine times out of ten, the request, demand, or threat comes not from the LD but from the manager or press representative handling the artist or project the LD has been hired to light.
In each of these cases, the implication is that, in choosing the cover, dark forces are at work. The assumption is that the cover is a prize that should go to the most deserving designer but that somehow this process is thwarted by evildoers. Either we play favorites, trying to flatter certain artists or we are bribed into making certain choices, or, worst of all, our collective taste is out of whack, leading us to make bizarrely wrongheaded choices.
Our cover choices are based on a number of simple practical rules. For example:
Does the issue have a special focus? Many issues feature a certain focus, which is geared to whatever trade show is happening at that moment. In March, we often do a club roundup, as a tie-in with the SIB show in Rimini, Italy. Naturally, that issue will have a club cover. Usually, in May or June, we do more with architectural projects, because Lightfair is happening. You can bet that one of those issues will have an architectural cover. If your concert project is featured in one of those issues, it doesn't really matter how fantastic it is, or how big your moving light rig is. You probably won't make the cover.
Is there a suitable image? It's difficult to define what makes a suitable cover image, but above all it has to make a strong visual statement, fit within the rectangular magazine format, and work well with our logo. Sometimes, even the most intensive photo shoot doesn't yield a really good cover image. First and foremost, the cover has to grab one's attention, so the project with the most suitable photo is going to get the cover.
What's been on the cover lately? Our mantra here at Lighting Dimensions is diversity. So if the last two issues have had concert covers, a third isn't likely. The same goes for theatre, architecture, clubs, whatever. We want readers to think of Lighting Dimensions as a magazine for the entire industry. Too many similar covers tends to give the wrong impression.
None of these considerations is hard and fast, of course, and one may overrule the others, given the month. The truth is, every project we choose to write about is, in theory, a suitable cover choice — I know that sounds phony (“It's an honor just to be nominated!”) but it's the truth. If we write about a project, it's because we think readers should know about it. Whether it's because of the skill behind it or the new technology, or whatever, it's worth your attention. If you can think of it that way, then everybody wins.