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Behind the scenes of our chalky cover

Behind the scenes of our chalky cover

Some thought it would be nigh on impossible to top our 40th issue, for which photographer Mike Heydon wrapped digital entrepreneur Drew Broadley up in paper receipts and snapped his mummified personage. (That cover even made it onto a couple of billboards, which you might see around Auckland city, or on our Facebook page.)

idealog chalk cover issue 42 aimee carruthers

And while it was a tough act to follow, and though we may be more than a little biased, we reckon our new cover just might be the bestest yet. Being our design issue, it called for a suitably creative cover. Editor Hazel Phillips had been angling for a chalkboard concept for a while and art director Aimee Carruthers leapt at the chance to do something away from her Mac.

"We've been admiring the work of Dana Tanamchi, whose chalky-prowess I could never live up to because she's made a full time gig out of it, but I'm still quite proud of the cover," she says.

"I have a soft spot for retro-revival fonts so many of the letters are based on fonts from the Lost Type Co-op. We mocked the cover up to size to make sure all the cover elements would end up in the right spot then we checked and checked and checked again for spelling errors. I wasn't keen on making corrections to the final chalked up design!"

The mockup was blown up to four times the original size and roughly transferred onto the blackboard with pencil, with only rough smears guiding her as to where the letters should go.

idealog chalk cover issue 42 aimee carruthers

"The board we used was quite rough so chalking it up took twice as long as I anticipated. The chalk was tricky to work with as it snaps easily, I went through six pieces before I ran to the art shop to buy a chalk pencil – much more sturdy and it had a finer point. My 15cm pencil became a 4cm nub by the end of the exercise.

"There was lots of drawing letters, then rubbing them out and tweaking them. I botched the orange coverline at the very top of the mag and had to remove the whole line with Coke then redraw it (pro-tip: Coke erases chalk like magic)."

Idealog chalkboard cover timelapse - Issue 41 from Idealog on Vimeo.


After nearly six hours, it was all done and duly photographed by Tony Brownjohn. After printing, the cover was finished with a slammin' custom textured matt UV finish from Pacific Lamination, who spent a day experimenting with the texture to get it right. The end result? Well, you'll have to pick up a copy – you gotta feel it to believe it.

So, what's next for Idealog's superstar AD?

"Now that I've chalked up that experience (haha), I'm thinking about designing my own typeface one day," says Carruthers. "That will probably be a long while into the future though."