A decade of covers: Our favorites from each year

by Chloe Ford ([email protected]) 327 views 

As the art director at the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, I love designing the visual first impression our readers see every two weeks. This week’s front page features our favorite cover from each of the past 10 years.

2010: This front page stood out to me because of the out-of-focus athlete in the foreground and University of Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino sharp in the background. And maybe because our region longs for the winning days of Razorback football. Here’s to hoping Sam Pittman leads the way.

2011: Photographer Beth Hall’s shot of insurance agent David Dyer playing golf in a business suit stops you in your tracks. It perfectly illustrates the story it accompanies, and it’s certainly not a sight you see everyday.

2012: Back before sustainability became a business standard, the Journal produced a yearly edition highlighting companies that were putting a focus on going green. This dynamic shot of Steve Brankle, John Brown University’s director of facilities, was a rarity — at the time — for Journal covers: a single image and story instead of the usual three articles.

2013: In September 2013, after nearly a decade of joint ownership, the Journal’s then-owner Gray Matters LLC became sole owner of the publication. We asked Beth Hall to shoot a photo of owner Darin Gray and publisher Rob Gutterridge. She came up with the idea of fanning Journals across the floor in our newsroom to use as the backdrop.

2014: Another image from Beth Hall, this photo of hotelier Emmanuel Gardinier resting his head on the famous green penguins at 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville is one of my all-time favorites. It’s colorful and playful, and we didn’t often have photographs that could be used like a banner at the top of the crowded front page.

2015: We don’t see a lot of pretty pastels on our covers, so this front page featuring Lauren Stokes, owner and CEO of Lauren James Co., really popped. The image is bright and shows us that fashion can be friendly and fun.

2016: After 20 years of squeezing three stories onto covers, I decided it was time for a change: one story, one large photo and one big, bold headline. We debuted a modernized redesign of the Journal two weeks prior, following our merger with Talk Business & Politics. Focusing on designing around one photo would give us the chance to play around with future designs. I was particularly excited about cutting out around this cover’s star, Dr. Robert Steele of Arkansas Children’s, and placing his head over the red line separating the flag (our publication’s logo) from the rest of the content.

2017: When I had the chance to illustrate the famous faces that come to Northwest Arkansas for Walmart’s annual shareholder’s meeting, I knew I wanted to include the retailer’s recognizable spark logo. While searching Walmart’s press archives for hosts and performers from years past, I tried to find a little something for everyone, from Nick Jonas to Carol Burnett.

2018: For 2018’s Residential Real Estate issue, we had a powerful story about developer Rustin Chrisco, who continued to buy property around downtown Bentonville during the Great Recession — a risk that paid off for him. Photographer Wesley Hitt took this excellent photo of Chrisco. The headline screamed for extra attention, thus the color and larger “Boom” wording.

2019: The final favorite of the decade is my personal No. 1 cover we’ve printed. I landed on the Women in Business color scheme of red, pink, black and gray long before photographer Meredith Mashburn sent us the image of entrepreneur Jade Terminella. Terminella’s dress just happened to be the perfect shade to carry the color scheme into the headline and story. I got a little adventurous by tilting those elements a bit to follow the angle of the baseboards in the photo. I think this cover goes to show that trying something different on the front page of the Journal can sometimes lead to a little design magic.