Five Before Five: Gail Bichler's New York Times covers

Gail Bichler's New York Times covers
Design and its relationship with print is well and truly alive at The New York Times Magazine, who with the help of Design Director Gail Bichler, are distributing 2.5million copies of the magazine with each Sunday release of the paper. Here she shares her five favourite cover moments.
The New York Times Magazine Design Director, Gail Bichler
Take Flight
Our annual Great Performers Issue features a photographic portfolio of the actors who gave some of the best cinematic performances of the year. For the cover, we had the idea to turn a picture of Melissa McCarthy into an homage to Philippe Halsman’s famously surreal photograph of Salvador Dali. McCarthy’s movements were so balletic. When Director / Photographer Daniel Askill got this shot of her doing splits in mid-air, we knew we had our cover. The cats were photographed separately. They were almost as graceful. (And none were harmed in the making of the cover.)  

Much of the challenge of this cover occurred in the art-direction phase of the illustration. We were correcting for the distortion that occurs when you put an image on a curved surface, and it was very important to get Trump's likeness right. We made 25 balloons in a couple of different sizes with the illustration created by Stan Chow. Photographer Jamie Chung took pictures of them in various states of inflation and at various heights. 
Walking NY
The making of our Walking New York cover was a massive team effort and was the most ambitious photo shoot I’ve been involved in. We commissioned French artist JR to do a large-scale pasting of a walking man on the Flatiron plaza in Manhattan. He began at 4 a.m., and with the help of a 20-person crew, he glued the 150-foot-tall image, which was divided into 62 strips of paper, onto the pavement in about three hours. Later that afternoon, from a helicopter, he photographed the image with pedestrians wandering over it. The cover was very well received, although on Twitter several people wondered if we’d ever heard of Photoshop.  

Nicki Minaj 
Our Culture Issue cover subject Nikki Minaj has meticulously crafted and controlled her own image in the media. The writer of our article found out just how unpredictable she can be when Minaj reprimanded her for asking a “disrespectful” question and abruptly ended the interview. We had a number of set-ups we wanted to try for the cover. She let us play out only one. Luckily photographer Erik Madigan Heck got it right on the first try. 
Chris Christie
When we asked presidential candidate Chris Christie to pose for a picture kissing a baby, he declined. So we hired Kristian Hammerstad to make an illustrated version for our cover. After we published it, Christie called us out on Twitter, saying, “Dear @NYTMag, it’s more like this…” and posted a gif of himself participating in the classic American campaign trail cliché. 

Portrait of Gail and behind the scenes photos from Walking New York by Andrew T. Warman
New York Times Credits
Editor: Jake Silverstein
Design Director: Gail Bichler
Director of Photography: Kathy Ryan
Art Director: Matt Willey
Deputy Art Director: Jason Sfetko
Designers: Ben Grandgenett, Frank Auguliaro
Photo Editors: Stacey Baker, Amy Kellner, Christine Walsh
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