Cover Story: Making Management Insider a Tiger
Birthing a Magazine Cover
In April of 2017, Management Insider was gearing up for their latest issue. It was a big issue focusing on a global event in Cambodia and the time to design was short. The management team was also looking for a new visual direction for the magazine. They contacted me to work on it as Art Director in charge of layout and setting a new look.
The big event that Management Insider’s special issue focused on was the World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN. The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. Though this time, the event took place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in the second week of May. The issue was also to be the official publication of the convention; being placed in all official venues, cars, and hotels for the WEF.
Management Insider’s cover story was titled, “Cambodia: Asia’s New Tiger” and dealt with the country’s rising prominence in ASEAN. The article text was accompanied by some great photos of the minister by Jeremie Montessuis of Film Noir Studio in Phnom Penh. Inspired by story’s title, I wanted to make a striking magazine cover that would get people talking. photo. I found it was so evocative that I wanted to make something really illustrative of it. So my first draft featured Minister Aun Pornminiroth in a wildly illustrative setting. The Minister was paired with a tiger and set on a hand-drawn version Cambodia’s most famous monuments and flora.
Unfortunately, this didn’t go over to well with the magazine’s upper management. The design was seen as too playful for their clientele and there were fears that the minister himself would be mistaken for the tiger itself. While I was unhappy to see the design go (especially that font!), I moved onto a different direction.
After gathering input from the the the Management Insider management team about the magazine cover, I started on the second and final draft. To make sure there was no misinterpretation that the Minister was not the tiger, I began using a map of Southeast Asia. Instead of the usual red dot map pin, I made a tiger pin created in Cinema 4D to make it a bit more playful and illustrative. I started with a globe motif, then moved to a more flat, simple map with Cambodia highlighted in red. Later on in the design process, I aided a simple polygon-style pattern to the areas of water and Cambodia’s silhouette to give it more visual variety. This time the proposed cover was accepted with one caveat. Cambodia has bitter history with the color red, we could not use it in association with the country.
For the final version of the cover, I went back to Cinema 4D. I created a 3D map of Southeast Asia to start. Then, by using depth play and perspective, I created a basin out of the Cambodia’s bordering countries to make the country could pop. Later, after exporting the model using a physical renderer to make the lighting look as realistic as possible I went into Photoshop. There I gave the waters a tactile texture using the grain of an agate rock. Finally Cambodia got a geometric shiny texture added to it that shied away from a painful past and acknowledged the country’s new ‘golden’ status..