In every designer's files, you'll find a short stack of covers that didn't make it into print. All too often, a great idea is killed because it's too controversial, or someone up the command chain like an editor or publisher didn't get it. Sometimes though, there's nothing wrong with the design itself, but it gets shelved because there was breaking news, or the final story shifted away from the original concept or — in this case — a printing problem.
While updating my portfolio recently, I found this copy of an unpublished Indy cover (from 8 years ago today!) Looks great doesn't it? Everyone loved it, the colors pop, and it perfectly captures a visual motif from the (then) newly-opened Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh. And yet...
At the time we were having quality control problems with our printer, which were compounded by the fact that we had switched to an even cheaper newsprint to save on money. In prepping this cover, I realized all the ink would act as a yellow highlighter for anything heavy on the other side of the paper — in this case a big dark full page ad — and bleed thru to the front. In reverse. The advertiser had paid for premium placement so, this got the axe.
A pity, really, as the cover image that actually ran was a flat, shadowy photo that still came across as muddy thanks to the ad bleeding through the cheap paper. Oh well.