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On the anniversary of the attacks on World Trade Center. I was thinking this might be a good time to talk about my cover idea that was used for The New Yorker on their 5th Anniversary edition. That cover won the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) "Cover Of The Year" in 2006... as well as being named Advertising Age's "Top Ten Covers of the Year."

Above is my final September 11 Anniversary cover submission...
The story (with images of the process) below the fold.

I've submitted ideas to The New Yorker for a while now... and I've sold four covers (one: unpublished, three: ideas only). I'm first and formost an artist, so it's been a disappointment to sell the ideas and not have my artwork used. But you take what you can get and move along.

The WTC attacks had been covered from pretty much every angle, so coming up with something fresh was my primary motivation.

Above you can see my final cover submission for The New Yorker I provided for the 5th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I had played around with a lot of ideas before that one.

Here’s a few of ‘em…

Early on, I started with the images of the missing towers only outlined by the breaks in the clouds. I liked that idea well enough to submit that. I knew people would always look where the towers once stood and would, with their mind's eye, fill in that space. I thought the blue sky and clouds could suggest what used to occupy that space.

…that one didn’t fly (although I still like it for the simplicity) so I worked on a few different angles…

I had recently read about Philippe Petit, the man who walked between the WTC towers on a tightrope in August of 1974. I thought about how it would never be possible to duplicate that feat. But thinking about the strength and determination of New Yorkers on September 11th (and beyond) I thought,
“they could still do it…. and they wouldn’t need a tightrope”.

That lead me to this sketch:

The Art Director of The New Yorker, Françoise Mouly, called back and said they liked the idea. They wanted to see what I could come up with…
I tried a few more ideas around the theme…

cleaned-up version of the above idea (just clothes to reflect "everyone" idea
...Magritte influence, as well)... nope.

…then I combined the previous ideas…

 Those didn’t quite work… so I tried a few more…

thought about using the legs as the towers… or the city as the tightrope… nah.

Finally, I went with the looking down version… over the WTC site. (the one you see at the top of the post.)  …

…although I love this image, The New Yorker still thought it wasn’t quite right and it was passed over to the excellent Owen Smith. Owen promptly knocked it out of the park.

It was made into a double cover… the outer layer: the figure of Petit floats against nothing…. the inner one: reveals the city and the Tower footprints below.

I've heard back from a lot of people with kind things to say about that cover and I'm still very proud of it.

.....................

From the ASME website:

From The New Yorker: For the five-year 9/11 anniversary cover,
John Mavroudis’ concept was to stay away from the surfeit of images that recall the horror and remember the wonder of Philippe Petit’s 1974 tight-rope walk between the towers. The result in Owen Smith’s painting is magical: the walker, in the absence of towers and rope, remains suspended in the white space of a blank page.
The two-part cover (a first for The New Yorker) is a memorial to the spirit
of humanity and those who died there, and especially to the man who did
a perfect dive as he plunged to his death.
Here’s what Advertising Age had to say:
“Even those who don’t remember Philippe Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk
between the towers of the World Trade Center feel this void. A second
cover, behind the first, filled in the white space with the
footprints of the towers. “Soaring Spirit,” by John Mavroudis and
Owen Smith, tugged us upward without forgetting the fall.”
Cross-posted on my ZenPop Tumblr blog.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (22+ / 0-)

    -- A "trusted member" since 2011 -- Historic Obama Civil Rights Poster (based on my cover for The Nation magazine) AVAILABLE NOW at www.zenpop.com

    by johnmav on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 12:41:38 AM PDT

  •  Thanks, John. (4+ / 0-)

    An interesting story and a fitting ending for a wrenching day.

    Am I right, or am I right? - The Singing Detective

    by Clem Yeobright on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 12:53:46 AM PDT

    •  Thanks Clem... (2+ / 0-)

      I appreciate it. I hope you have a much better tomorrow!

      -- A "trusted member" since 2011 -- Historic Obama Civil Rights Poster (based on my cover for The Nation magazine) AVAILABLE NOW at www.zenpop.com

      by johnmav on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 01:01:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  what Clem said. And also: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Clem Yeobright, johnmav

        A fitting end to a wrenching day.

        Congratulations on your artwork being recognized so well and widely.  You really did successfully break the dominant memes and capture something that embodies a whole range of important values:  Resilience and resistance to terror, the can-do spirit, the sense that people will defy the aggressors by continuing to live their lives.

        Your image really does transform three fearsome things into a spectrum of uplifting things:

        = The fear that was caused by the attack,

        = the different type of fear that is inspired by dare-devil performances such as walking that tightrope,

        = and the horror of people choosing instantaneous death of impact from a leap from the burning towers, over the more painful death that would otherwise have taken them.

        These things you transformed into something almost spiritual:

        = The sense of overcoming all odds and doing the impossible,

        = the sky-person archetype that is a collective element of most of the world's religions.

        = the elements of fear transformed into the elements of transcendence.

        = and the sense of peace that is inspired by reflecting on the transcendent aspect of ourselves, where the mindset of normal rationality steps over a subtle line into a mindset where there is peace above and beyond.  

        There is something about your original work that emphasizes some of these themes, in a way that's more effective than Owen Smith's interpretation: the contrast of the uniform tones of blue and black and gray below, with the more lifelike colors of the person walking above, invokes the sense of a dream or a different reality, making the transformative symbolism more immediate.  Smith's version, with the colorful background, doesn't quite do that as well as yours, though it has its own strengths by way of the lively colors suggesting more of the "life will go on" theme.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 04:48:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I appreciate the thoughts... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek

          I think the New Yorker was looking for a more uplifting image for the 5th Anniversary. Mine was certainly a more somber and dreamlike take and that was reflected in the color palette (as you mentioned).

          -- A "trusted member" since 2011 -- Historic Obama Civil Rights Poster (based on my cover for The Nation magazine) AVAILABLE NOW at www.zenpop.com

          by johnmav on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 07:40:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Since I always considered the towers an (0+ / 0-)

    abominationan and a blight on the skyline of New York, I appreciate having a new image of a man's effort to give them meaning.
    The Towers were an act of hubris that displaced and disrupted many lives in their erection, matched equally in their destruction. The real difference is that the latter was more noticed, as things that happen quickly tend to be.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 01:12:39 AM PDT

  •  Nice work, John. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, Clem Yeobright, johnmav

    Interesting to see one version of a New Yorker cover in various revisions.

    "Vulture/Voucher 2012"? ¡Venceremos!

    by Free Jazz at High Noon on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 01:16:26 AM PDT

  •  So interesting. (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you for showing us how this remarkable image evolved. Did you realize at the beginning what a powerful symbol it was?
    (P.S. - Owen Smith's cover is a wonderful thing, but for some reason, your final cover is by far the more riveting image to me.)

    •  the more riveting image: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clem Yeobright, Horsefeathers

      I had a similar reaction; see my lengthy comment above which explains it in detail.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 04:49:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sometimes, when I think I get the idea right... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Horsefeathers

      I get excited about the final outcome. I was pretty certain it was a good idea.... that doesn't always translate... Sometimes I see more in my work than others do... and sometimes others see more than I do. Goes back to the idea of art being such an individual thing.

      -- A "trusted member" since 2011 -- Historic Obama Civil Rights Poster (based on my cover for The Nation magazine) AVAILABLE NOW at www.zenpop.com

      by johnmav on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 07:47:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I truely love the blue cloud image. Do you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnmav

    offer prints, or would you consider it? I honestly have not come across any other image as powerful, to me, as that. It simultaneously represents the positive and negative space and really evokes my memories of the towers. They were my landmarks in Chinatown and I've always felt disoriented without them, I still look to them for steering and am always met with sky.

    The dream knows no frontier or tongue,/ The dream no class or race. Langston Hughes

    by parse this on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 05:23:14 AM PDT

    •  I'm actually in the process of recreating this... (0+ / 0-)

      I'm not exactly happy with the final rendering of that image (it was not exactly finished to my satisfaction.) I do offer prints. Feel free to contact me via my website for details...

      Cheers!

      -- A "trusted member" since 2011 -- Historic Obama Civil Rights Poster (based on my cover for The Nation magazine) AVAILABLE NOW at www.zenpop.com

      by johnmav on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 07:51:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent, bravo! (0+ / 0-)

    ❧To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 05:51:25 AM PDT

  •  Beautiful. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnmav

    Congratulations on some excellent work.  It is interesting to see some of the process behind this cover, which the pubic normally doesn't see.

    I also like your final version of the idea, the one at the top of your post, the best.  I think it's striking and beautiful.

    Did you know that there's a kid's book about Petit's stunt, "The Man Who Walked the Towers," I think.  I bought it and read it to my kids years back when they were little.  They did not understand the meaning of the page right at the end, "Now, the towers are no more," with an image of the big empty sky.  That page was more for the parents, I think.  It is also quite beautiful, in a way similar to your work here.

    "We reject as false the choice between our safety and our values." Barack Hussein Obama

    by jem6x on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 06:09:13 AM PDT

    •  Thank you, jem... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jem6x

      I appreciate the comments. Actually I didn't discover the book you're talking about until after I had finished the illustration. An animator, Michael Sporn, pointed out the book to me. I've since taken a look and it's beautifully done. They made an animated movie about it, as well.

      -- A "trusted member" since 2011 -- Historic Obama Civil Rights Poster (based on my cover for The Nation magazine) AVAILABLE NOW at www.zenpop.com

      by johnmav on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 07:54:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How about that -- (0+ / 0-)

        I wasn't aware of the movie version.

        Cheers!

        "We reject as false the choice between our safety and our values." Barack Hussein Obama

        by jem6x on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 12:05:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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