As the Creative Director of TIME, I’m responsible for the design of one of the world's most iconic brands and challenged each week with presenting some of the biggest news stories. I’ve designed more than 500 TIME covers in my 20-plus years at the magazine, from politics to technology, from health to world news to President Trump. The cover on Christine Blasey Ford was recently named the 2019 Best Cover of the Year by the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME). I also currently art direct the weekly animated cover for TIME's 60 million social audience.

I’ll be taking over TIME's Reddit account Friday, March 22 from 1-2pm ET so you can ask me anything about the cover of TIME.


Update: Thank you for your questions! Signing off now. Besides the still images we also have animated versions of our covers each week. You can check them out at TIME's Instagram.

Comments: 807 • Responses: 29  • Date: 

babecafe867 karma

Do you have a love/hate relationship with that red border?

timemagazine1194 karma

Good question. I've always said the red border is a blessing and a curse. It's instantly recognizable, so that helps. But as a designer the red tends to 'takeover' the design or image at times. Like red with a green background image isn't great.

All in all, I'd rather have it and I'm always trying to find ways to be creative inside that box

robdobi865 karma

Covers get shelved all the time, what is the tightest turnaround you’ve done for “we had a finished cover, now X happened and we need a new cover” also, is it hard working around someone as stylish as Martin Gee?

timemagazine1324 karma

I've had to do a cover in about an hour after breaking news happened. We've also had to tear up the entire magazine (the night of Steve Jobs death and do an entire issue and cover in about 3 hours.

And yes, Martin is very stylish!

thirty-five-324 karma


timemagazine728 karma

When Osama Bin Laden was killed, I had the famous TIME 'X' cover waiting in a folder for about a year and half. And there have been covers that didn't run (hundreds and hundreds :) that I pull out from time to time to see if they could work.

Jackie-Chad350 karma

What was your reaction to Donald Trump photoshopping himself onto a TIME cover?

timemagazine653 karma

President Trump has certainly spent a great deal of time and focus on the notion of ‘fake news’ the past several years. I would say that nothing surprises me in the news nowadays. But to have him showcase fake TIME covers at his businesses is quite frankly, well, interesting :)

ClairesNairDownThere158 karma

What was the funniest idea you ever had that you couldn't do because it wasn't "appropriate"?

timemagazine389 karma

That's funny. I tend to not want to share ideas that didn't run (with the hopes that one day they will). Fingers crossed

Portarossa302 karma

What's your favourite TIME cover that you've been responsible for -- and is there one from before your time that you look at and just think, Wow, that's great work?

timemagazine439 karma

It’s so hard to pick just one - each of one of them have their own inside story to tell. I only have one TIME cover hanging in my house - a 1950s cover about Coca-Cola created by artist Boris Artzybasheff, who painted more than 200 covers of TIME from the 1940s to the 1960s. It’s a rather whimsical illustration and being from Atlanta I’ve grown up with Coca-Cola. But it primarily serves as a reminder to me of the great artists who have worked on a cover of TIME.

LurktilIde264 karma

What was the most difficult piece you had to design, and why? How did you overcome that obstacle?

timemagazine606 karma

I think one of the more difficult covers to do was Aisha, a shy 18-year-old Afghan woman who had her nose and ears cut off by the Taliban for fleeing her abusive in-laws. As a father of a 17-year-old girl, I of course just can't imagine. It was difficult to say the least and we actually had a child psychologist look over the cover before publishing to make sure it was appropriate for the newsstands in America. I'm very proud that we published that image.,9171,2007415,00.html

fancy_leftovers247 karma

What steps did you have to take to get this job?

timemagazine532 karma

I actually started out as a sportswriter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution start out of college (I went to Georgia State University). I did that for about 10 years, covering local and professional sports. I job came open in the AJC’s design department and I applied (I did some design at the school newspaper). And for about 9 months I did both jobs - writing and design - it was a tremendous experience. I designed the AJC’s Olympic section and it got the attention of TIME. I’ve been here ever since the 1996 Olympics.

whiterabbittxz215 karma

Was there ever a person or subject (that made it on or not) that you were really opposed to having the cover?

timemagazine409 karma

Not really. My job is to illustrate and crystallize what is happening in the news in an 8 x 10.5 inch space every week - whether I agree with the topic or not.

ExoticPanther170 karma

Do you find life easier with a name as awesome as D.W. Pine? I'd have a huge smirk whenever introducing myself with such a name.

timemagazine163 karma

Actually, what the initials stand for is even more awesome

OleaC107 karma

Have you ever read George Lois’ book The Art of Advertising? George designed a few magazine covers himself, and a few are classics. If so, do you have a favourite George Lois creation?

timemagazine147 karma

The Muhammed Ali cover of Esquire is probably my favorite. George Lois is a genius.

slax0394 karma

Can you possibly explain to us any of the creative process behind coming up with these iconic covers?

timemagazine224 karma

What I’ve always loved about TIME is our authority to cover a wide range of topics - from health to politics; business to sports; science to world news - and our readers expect that coverage from us. The same variety holds true for how we visually present a topic. Some weeks it’s a stylized portrait, other weeks it’s a graphic illustration. Sometimes it’s just type, other times it’s a news photo or a painting or drone photography. The visual approach depends a great deal on the subject or idea we’re trying to convey and that changes week to week. I do find that ideas come at all different times and not necessarily in a brainstorming meeting. Sometimes an idea will just pop in my head walking down the street. The good thing is that ideas always come and I have found that if they don;t then it's probably not a TIME cover.

Portarossa93 karma

Donald Trump famously faked a TIME magazine cover to be displayed at his golf course. (There was no TIME magazine of that date, and certainly not one that featured Trump.)

How would you rate the design, given that it's your job? Can we get a professional critique?

EDIT: Never mind. You already wrote a whole piece about it. Dang, you TIME guys are on the ball.

timemagazine76 karma

Ha. Glad you found the piece we posted on Let me know if you have other questions about it

Portarossa20 karma

Yeah, my initial Google-Fu was lacking :p (The Fake TIME cover was comfortably one of my favourite stories of the whole administration so far, so I was thrilled to see you'd already covered it.)

I am curious, though: did you pitch that article, or did someone else ask you to write it because it was too good an opportunity to pass up? What was the reaction from people at the magazine when the news broke?

timemagazine61 karma

I actually pitched that article to the editors and they loved the idea so then I had to explain the process of a TIME cover in detail - which I had never really done. It was a fun assignment. I find that people/readers enjoy it when we go behind the scenes of how we produce the cover.

cheesy-aint-easy89 karma

What have you learned in your life thus far, that others should know in order to lead a happy life?

timemagazine147 karma

Great question. I tend to try and make everything I do fun. It's not always easy but keeping a good balance in life has been critical. Also, I really enjoy what I do for work. Never dull

HappyTimeHollis73 karma

So, I understand that TIME is a very prestigious cover to get, however most of the people who get chosen for the honour don't need the publicity. Having such a powerful platform, do you ever feel the desire to give that position to artists, humanitarians or scientists who could truly benefit from the additional exposure that being the TIME magazine cover would bring?

timemagazine120 karma

Definitely. And we get a great reaction when we do. We just recently did The Optimist issue where we featured dozens of artists who don't normally get any recognition. I also try to hire artists and photographers who aren't necessarily known - like this week's New Zealand artist for instance.

Nigelpennyworth68 karma

When you're designing a cover does the process start with a concept or a photograph? If there is a particularly meaningful picture does that set the tone for the magazine or do you try to match the tone you guys have in mind by then going out and selecting an image?

timemagazine122 karma

The process starts with a blank 8x10.5 inch white canvas in InDesign. From there, anything can happen. The design mission of a TIME cover is to make a clear and graphic impact as simple as possible.And sometimes that's a photograph or an illustration. I love that fact that our readers get a variety of topics from TIME and we can use a variety of ways to present that news.

luisger9251 karma

Hi Mr. Pine. Big fan of your work. I have a couple of questions:

Where, who, or from what sources do you get most of your creative direction and inspiration from on a daily basis? Is there anything you do specifically to get your creative brain juices flowing?

Secondly, if you were to do a Time Cover and article about your career, what would you title it?

Thanks so much for your time!

timemagazine65 karma

Wow. That is a great question!

I would probably have Martin Schoeller photograph me laughing and I wouldn't put a cover line on it - easier to design around :)

GivinGreef46 karma

With the recent events happening in New Zealand, how do you reconcile what’s appropriate, what’s necessary, and what’s accurate when designing a magazine cover? How do you ensure the covers are engaging without seeming like a tabloid?

timemagazine123 karma

As you can imagine a great deal of care goes into that responsibility. As for this week's New Zealand cover, there was a 25-year-old artist in New Zealand (Ruby Jones) who created a very moving piece that was shared throughout the country. I decided to hire her to create a piece for the cover of TIME - it just felt like the right way to present it.

CrazyDuck12341 karma

Have you ever published a cover thinking that it may cause controversy and made you doubt it?

timemagazine119 karma

Usually when I think a cover will spark controversy, I'm always for it. Anytime people are talking about what you've created it's a good thing.

wigletbill36 karma

Were the horns on Trump intentional?

timemagazine85 karma

No. That's how the logo appears. Here's a fun gallery of past 'horn' covers:

denvercarolina9322 karma

Did you have any idea that this is where you'd be in your career in this stage of your life? Where did you honestly imagine yourself being?

timemagazine51 karma

No. I actually went to college to get a finance degree (My dad worked for IBM). But after taking Accounting 101, I quickly decided it wasn't for me. I got involved in the college newspaper (becoming the editor in my senior year) and I fell in love with telling stories and presenting the news.

Audiencefone21 karma

Is there any advice you have for designing covers? I've created my own novel's jacket and several covers for Worldbuilding Magazine (not always all of it but I assemble the pieces usually). TIME has always been a point of reference and inspiration for me especially for the second and I'm curious what you have to say about goals and design.

Apologies for how terribly vague that is.

timemagazine61 karma

Think simple. Clear. Graphic. Try to use the space effectively - either white space or in an interesting place. And don;t use too many fonts. We have three fonts for all of TIME.

ToProvideContext14 karma

I remember when I was times person of the year. Can you walk us through start to finish the process of selecting and designing a cover? Like here is the idea, then we do this and this , ect.

timemagazine20 karma

We close the cover on Wednesday at 2pm. So the process starts on Thursday and Friday - mulling over stories and deciding where we want to be. I generally like going into the weekend with an idea of what I'll need to do for the cover. But most of the time, Monday and Tuesday become heavy concept and production days. The news cycle happens so quickly that we have to adjust along with it. We tend to work on the cover lines Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning - most weeks I'll try 40-60 different approaches :)

CletusVanDamnit10 karma

Do you have any favorite magazine cover designs that are not from TIME? Frankly, and I know the content is extremely different, but I was always fan of MAD Magazine's cover art.

timemagazine25 karma

I always admired Lois' Esquire covers, as well as New York Magazine, the New Yorker, NYT Magazine. Really amazing work out there every week

rollwithhoney6 karma

Two oglf your covers that really stood out to me recently were the Donald Trump storm ones (there's a before and an after). What was your decision making process for having a 'sequel' to a cover, has that been done before? And have you considered doing a 3rd?

timemagazine28 karma

Thanks. We've actually done a third.

Tim is a long-time contributor to TIME, having painted more than two dozen covers since 1989. His imaginative style and gift for detail made him the right choice to create a portrait of the White House disruption. I talked to Tim about the idea of a storm engulfing the administration - tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. Tim came back with several sketches, including one with the Oval Office ravaged by a rainstorm. What I love about that image - and the reaction it received - was that both sides held it up as an example proving their argument. Trump opponents held it up to show the chaotic storm he had created, while Trump supporters saw it as a strong, resolute leader in the face of the storms around him. I think when you can create an image where both sides take something away, that’s a good place to be.

SpacemanGrapes2 karma

What would be the best approach to get a job writing, or just as a part of the team at TIME?

Thanks for doing this.

timemagazine4 karma

We're actually hiring!

Mattjames862 karma

What made you come up with the name TIME?

timemagazine5 karma

Ha. Credit Henry Luce with that

Fubarp1 karma

Are you related to Chris Pine Family or Pine Family from Rhode Island? Or is there a third Pine Family that exist in the States that I've never been aware of?

timemagazine3 karma

Unfortunately, not related to Chris Pine :)