I didn’t ‘get’ some of my favourite albums on first listening. REM’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi, Aphex Twin’s I Care Because You Do... they were strange and took time and focus to get through. So I pressed stop, disturbed and slightly baffled. But of course it was me that was a bit behind, not being able to see what was new and unique about them. It was a similar thing when I first saw this issue’s SPIN cover drafts – both the subscriber and newsstand versions. There was a moment of panic. You see, even for the best design mag around, magazine publishers can approach cover design a wee bit formulaically. Top right text hit? Check. An active voice in your coverlines? Check. Is there a big number somewhere that’s shouting ‘value for money’? Check check check... I was looking at around five drafts of insanely inventive, humorous, playful and bold design, and I was seeing the visual equivalent of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. Then I got it. The main feature this issue is all about experimental type, and the cover represented that entirely. The reduced font size of the subscriber’s cover demands that the viewer pay attention, make an effort. The ‘skybar’ text fades into black offering a big fat question mark where we expect a statement. The main heading of the newsstand version, which clambers over the Computer Arts logo, pokes a finger at issues of legibility. The Pantone red is as loud as it possibly can be, but somehow puts full focus on the words it’s framing... The whole thing is just genius, and does exactly what great design should: it engages, entertains, inspires and elevates our expectations. But what do you think? Please get in touch and tell me what you make of these two covers.