Norman Rockwell designed many covers for the Saturday Evening Post. The example illustrated here is titled The Tom Boy from the May 23, 1953 edition of the periodical. The designer must realize that when a potential consumer of magazines or periodicals enters a store or newsstand with the intention of buying something to read, s/he is bombarded with the visuals on hundreds of magazine covers, all vying for attention and purchase. How does Rockwell attract the attention and interest of viewers? What attracts the eye first? The high value bright white blouse. From there, where does the eye go next? Down her legs to her socks or up to her face? Why? Because after being drawn to the bright white, the eye travels to areas of warm color - red. Her bruised face, red hair ribbon, and red plaid skirt equally attract us. Subliminally, the eye tries to connect other areas of red - the repetition of color. The artist’s signature in the bottom left is red and the title of the magazine is red.

 

THIS IMAGE NEEDS TO BE LIGHTENED

The text, “POST,” is printed large and bold, and stands out against the high value white background. Once we visually connect the girl, artist’s name, and magazine’s name, we’ve already invested time. Next, there is a repetition of verticals in the slats of the bench, the edges of the notices on the bulletin board, the hair ribbon, plaid of the skirt, arms and legs. Horizontals are apparent in the seat and backrest of the bench and outline of the bulletin board. Rhythm is apparent in the bench, plaid and bulletin board. Variety? Diagonals are introduced at the right of the composition in the open file cabinet and door leading into the principal’s office. These diagonals (orthogonals) lead our eye into the principal’s office, which will be the site for the conclusion of this narrative.

As such advertisements attempt to connect with the viewer, there must be interest expressed in the image. The depiction of a young girl outside the principal’s office is common and recognizable in elementary schools across this country. Viewers can identify with the girl or the narrative that she implies. If viewers feel a connection with the magazine cover - they’ll pick it up and buy it!