flickr Magazine Cover

Writer Response Theory Magazine - Please close the door, by Aeioux

Flickr Magazine Cover (not “Covr”) allows users to create their own magazine cover art by combining an image with a standard layout and fill-in-the-blank text. The simple composition of striped color filters is designed to work on top of most photos, while the MadLibs-style approach imitates elements of contemporary print magazine covers including headlines, story teasers, a fake barcode and an area for the issue date and price.

Creator John Watson is also the programmer behind the Flickr Badge Maker and Flickr Mosaic Maker. Like those earlier works, Magazine Cover is also a web-based image generator which draws content from the Flickr photo sharing service.

Works of art produced by the same software generator often share strong patterns of similarity and variation. This is particularly easy to see in the case of Magazine Cover, as users are encouraged to submit their designs into a public collection hosted back on Flickr.

Writer Response Theory Magazine - Wightman's Compass, by jovike

Of the approximately 20,000 images created with the service so far, about 500 have been posted to date. The common tone is ironic humor (Procrastinator, Resenting IKEA, Stalker Magazine) and plays on the name of the service (Quiltr, Spellr). Some covers are meta-references to other parts of Flickr online photo sharing culture, as in the Squared Circles cover whose image is a mosaic of smaller images drawn from the photo community of the same name.

The fact that Magazine Cover both draws on and contributes to the database creates interesting possibilities. For example, it should be possible to create a recursive Magazine Cover by creating one from an original image (e.g. a screen capture of the service site) and then using the final product as the input image for each subsequent cover.

Any Flickr image of sufficient size may be used by Magazine Cover - and many images are licensed under Creative Commons terms that allow for the creation of derivative works. A common requirement is that this derivatives be attributed and used non-commercially. The WRT-themed covers in this article were created using Please close the door by Aeioux, Wightman’s Compass by jovike, and Type by ghostbones.

Writer Response Theory Magazine - Type, by ghostbones

Future WRT covers might make use of images such as Palm-Reader by ghostbones, script by Idio Lector, @ by Leo L30, or Vonnegut Plaque by Ken Mohnkern.

via fickr blog

7 Responses to “flickr Magazine Cover”

  1. 1 Christy Dena

    I love these sorts of generators. I don’t think the appeal is digitally inclined though — remember going into a booth at a shopping center and getting your photo on a fake magazine cover? Seen movies with people standing behind cardboard bodies with the head cut-off?

    Perhaps the excitement or fascination comes from the immediate upgrading one gets (on the cover of a model magazine), or the professional rendition of a joke? Immediate gratification is definately an element too.

  2. 2 Jeremy Douglass

    I think I know the booths you are talking about, and they are indeed a remake of a very old you-in-the-picture painted bodies technology which has to be almost as old as the photograph.

    For Magazine Cover, I’m not sure if I could separate out which parts of the appeal are digital, and which aren’t. A few contrasts, though. First, the image is a digital resource provided by the user - so that can’t be the appeal, because unlike the painted strong man, you already *have* the image. Second, the layout isn’t like a recreation of a famous magazine, like a bold yellow frame, but more about the abstract idea of magazine-ness, using Flickr colors (blue and pink).

    Third, it doesn’t even start looking like a magazine until you type in lots of words! And really, it is that formula (image + your digital text layer = magazine cover) that I find so interesting - most computer users have desktop software to do this, slowly and painstakingly, on their own system, but as you say, immediate gratification is a major element of the appeal.

  3. 3 Mark Marino

    There’s this desire to see our text represented to us in some legitimate format that is closely linked to desktop publishing. This sense that what we’ve written is already print-worthy, even more so when it looks like other things that are print-worthy by virtue of having been printed.

    And yet, we don’t care if the image is ultimately printed in this case. And “printing” is losing its meaning here.

    I can remember my initial joy at seeing my text on a dot-matrix printer, on a type writer before that, and inkjet and laser afterward. But it was the publishing software that made it, as you say, immediate, and that also gave me tools that were a bit beyond my material expertise.

    I agree with you, too, that there is this glee in discovering magazine-ness through experimentation. What must be done for the arrangement to read as a magazine cover, which is, if I can borrow an analogy, a bit of a demonstration that we have internalized the codes and conventions of cover design. Have we then also internalized another implied code, Jeremy?

  4. 4 Jeremy Douglass

    Interesting. I think, to the extent that magazine covers are visual literacy, we have internalized a kind of literacy in recognizing a magazine cover design or format. But Implied Code is a literacy of interaction/expectation - so that would not be true for these Flickr Magazine Covers…

    …and only true for real magazine covers if you opened them expecting to quickly navigate to the content Implied on the cover, and were then able (through your mental model of how the hidden pages magazine works) to do so. Incidentally, as a newspaper reader, I find this incredibly difficult in most magazines, due to the obfuscation of the table of contents, page numbers, and so on - if I were to discuss actual magazines in terms of Implied “Code” my conclusion would probably be that they typically defeat it. In general, I’d probably file it under media literacy, though - Implied Code describing a kind of media literacy that focuses on operational logic….

  5. 5 Sign Generator has some sign generators, button creators, label designers and banner creators ;)

  6. 6 Jeremy Douglass

    Another interesting use of this program - to format the text of William Carlos Williams’ poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” - interesting because here the conjunction of image and text formatting works more like a procedure for a Blake watercolor than like a contemporary magazine….

  7. 7 Some Guy (fake magazine cover generator).

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