Cover Stars

The Lake District - always easy to work with!

Our Features Editor, Alex, discusses how The People’s Friend team finds it’s cover stars!

It’s around this early part of the year that we do the bulk of the planning of cover features. In the magazine, we work a few months ahead with general features, but for cover features, I need to think up to a year ahead. The recent spell of snow was a boon for 2018’s winter “scenics”, as we call them, so for the first time in nearly seven years we’ve a healthy stock of snow-capped covers for the coming winter.

We’re booked up into mid-May, and now I’m chatting to our cover feature writers about 2018’s locations – taking their thoughts on where to go and coming up with some of my own. I feel like we’ve neglected Northern Ireland a bit recently, so we’ll aim to get Neil McAllister over there for a few more. Canterbury has been a popular suggestion so far, and of course we’re looking ahead for a Dundee one for the opening of the new V&A museum in September, which we’re all excited about.

Canterbury – lovely, but those spires would point right up into our logo on the cover. We’ll need a different shot.

Given that the cover slot is the star British travel piece we do, ideally I need any British destination to have at least one or two options for a good cover painting reference image. This can be where it gets tricky. A town might be historically fascinating, a village might have some unique buildings or a literary connection, and a city will probably have any number of things going for it, but can we find that photo that will make it a cover star?

Few people will probably know where this is, but it might just be pretty enough not to matter! It’s actually the Cheviots.

Often I’ll dip into Alamy (photo agency) to see if a town’s got a distinctive feature before commissioning a piece on it. Usually we find something that works. It’s not a slight on the place if we don’t, but we need just the right amount of sky at the top, something distinctive and identifiable in the middle and not-too-much-busyness along the bottom.

The Seven Sisters – easily identifiable as a south coast landmark.

Our Sarah helps me figure out if we’ve got a winner on our hands, and then Angela has the final say before we send an image off to get painted up. I need to crack on, too. Sarah’s reminded me we’ve got two slots to fill in late May and early June. She manages the sending out of the images to painters and the finished products coming back in, so keeps me right on what we need and when.

So far I’ve spoken to Neil, Pat and I’m due to catch up with Willie Shand soon. In the meantime, if you think of anywhere lovely that you know might be worth a visit by one of our features writers, just pop it into the comments section below!


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