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The New Yorker magazine covers

Updated on August 14, 2012
The New Yorker cover from January 2012
The New Yorker cover from January 2012

One of the few magazines to consistently feature illustrated cover art is The New Yorker magazine. It is published 47 times a year, started out as a weekly magazine in 1925 and is still popular around the world.

The New Yorker magazine covers events and culture in New York City and has been important for launching the work of many successful contributors. Unusually for a weekly magazine, illustrated cover art features on every issue. The often topical and strikingly illustrated magazine covers, have become talking points and works of art in their own right. The New Yorker cover prints can be purchased online for a very reasonable price.

Although producing covers for decades, the typographical style has remained the same and the tradition of using illustrated artwork on the covers has been longstanding. One of its greatest traditions is that signature typeface (named Irvin named after its contributor Rea Irvin). Recent decades have also seen the introduction of digital techniques including, famously, the use of the iphone as an art tool.

May 18 2009 Eric Drooker
May 18 2009 Eric Drooker

Eric Drooker

My favourite New Yorker cover illustrator is Eric Drooker, regular contributor since the mid-1990s.

This artist was born in New York in 1958 and is best-loved for his protest posters and graphic novels. His work and covers, poetic as they are, are also thought-provoking social commentaries. His work also portrays the relationships between human and nature, nature and the city, social injustice and urban alienation. They often depict rooftop scenes of his beloved New York and monumental cityscapes in which all humans are vulnerable.

It is very difficult to pick a favourite Drooker cover but perhaps the issue from May 18 2009- a construction worker encountering a butterfly high above the Manhattan skyline - is certainly one of them.


The Complete Maus
The Complete Maus

If you only read one comic book, this is the one to read.


Art Spiegelman

Another favourite artist is Swedish-born and New York-raised Art Spiegelman. He is perhaps most celebrated for his underground comix series Maus: an amazing tale of his grandparents experience of life during the holocaust.

He has contributed some of the more controversial cover art. He also famously contributed to the memorable issue that came out just after 9/11. The cover depicted the Twin Towers in black silhouette against a near-black background. Spiegelman resigned from the magazine a few months later.

Saul Steinberg

Saul Steinberg(1914-1999) also produced notable cover art work on The New Yorker magazine. His March 29 1976 illustration is a map of a view of the rest of the world from New York is well-known and much copied. The scene from Manhattan looks out onto the rest of America as an island with the Pacific Ocean depicted as a wide river with Russia, Japan and China on the banks at the other side (see illustration below).

Many of his covers have featured surreal maps and cartoons featuring cats such as the issue from March 20 1954 showing cats posing for a family photo.

Jorge Colombo

Perhaps one of the most striking changes to illustrated magazine covers is the introduction of digital art techniques as the iphone and ipad revolution grows. Some artists are embracing these changes in a positive way and finding new techniques that are not immediately recognisable as digital techniques.

Jorge Colombo, for example, has found an app for that. Using the iPhone's Brushes app has helped him to discover ways of capturing street scenes without too much interference from the people around him. Just watch how he created this cover for June 1 2009 from outside Madame Tussaud's in Times Square. It took him just under an hour to create. Amazing!


There are of course the more controversial covers of recent years. Perhaps you remember Barry Blitt's attempt at satire used in the run-up to the Obama election in which Barack and wife Michelle are depicted in a controversial and extreme way.

Or how about the New Yorkistan cover which replaced Manhattan districts with rather cheekier versions, another humorous attempt which, for some at least, did not go down too well.

Vintage covers

Then there are the vintage covers - some of my all-time favourites are from the 1920s. Many of these covers can be bought as prints at very reasonable prices, including a print of the first ever cover from 1925.

Subscribe to The New Yorker magazine

The New Yorker
The New Yorker

Special discount price through Amazon. A subscription to The New Yorker magazine includes access to the online archive.



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