How do you do justice to David Bowie's career with only one magazine cover? You don't. You make twelve of them.
That's what Brazilian weekly magazine Veja did to honor Mr. Bowie, who passed away on January 10. For the first time ever, it featured a dozen different images dedicated to the same subject, in this case, the late musician.
"It was hard to choose only one photo, so we started to toy with the idea of making ten covers instead," said Rafael Costa, the magazine's art director, in a telephone interview from Brazil. "Everyone in the newsroom was on board with the idea, but then because of print production issues, we had to choose between 8 or twelve, so we went with 12."
Each cover features a song's verse from the same period as the portrait, with David Bowie's dates of birth and death and no other blurbs or headlines.
See here the 12 covers as an animated GIF and below the iPad version morphing the 12 covers and the corresponding songs:
Depois de tantas fantasias, o mundo veste preto.VEJA fez 12 capas para homenagear o artista de mil faces.Nas bancas, no tablet e no iPhone!Assine: http://abr.ai/1huaZdJNo tablet a edição tem as 12 capas, baixe a sua!Clique para baixar pela App Store: http://apple.co/1kJzRkrClique para baixar pelo Google Play: http://bit.ly/10n3z87Publicado por VEJA em Sábado, 16 de janeiro de 2016
The effort was a true war operation, involving the newsroom, distribution, marketing and even the subscription department. "There was a conscious decision to distribute randomly, in order to avoid the cost of tracking and targeting, and subscribers might complain why they were getting a different cover from their neighbors," Mr. Costa explained.
He declined to disclose the additional cost of making the covers, but said it was covered by the editorial budget. The circulation was 1.1 million, according to Mr. Costa.
Even with the "luxury" of 12 covers, Mr. Costa said it was hard to pick the final portraits, especially because he wanted them to have the same look and feel, so they could seamlessly fuse into each other in the iPad version. Bowie's famous mug shot for felony pot possession, for instance, was considered at a certain point, but didn't make the cut.
Although Veja experimented with two different covers for a "Star Wars" issue back in December (also a first), this was the first time in its 48 years that the magazine did 12 covers for one single issue.
The bold move paid off for the art director, who's been at Veja for five months and is spearheading the magazine's visual makeover. One of the covers made it to David Bowie's Instagram and Facebook accounts, along with Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter and Paris Match. "We all wanted to do something historic," Mr. Costa said.