Throughout my tenure as editor, I am constantly asked; “What makes a good cover” or “How do I get on the cover of Skin Deep?”
Readers, via email or at the many tattoo conventions I attend, often mute these questions. Each time my answer is the same. “We need a pretty female with good coverage of decent tattoos and most importantly a good, well framed, properly lit photograph.” That sounds easy but in reality it is very hard to find “the shot” for the cover each month.
A fellow editor, that I respect immensely, once told me something that has always stuck when it comes to choosing a cover shot; “Out of all of the pages in your magazine, the cover is the page that doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the buying public”. I have never forgotten that sage advice and it has proved to be right every time. What he meant was that the cover is THE image that entices the buying public to physically pick your magazine up off of the newsagent’s shelf and put their hand in their pocket to pay for the title. Therefore it has to have an eye-catching appeal to (hopefully) please as many people as possible but as we all know, we are all individuals and each of us has a different opinion of what we find attractive and appealing.
Over the thirteen issues of Skin Deep each year, I try to find photographs that meet all the above-mentioned criteria. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and we only find out what has done well and what hasn’t made the grade by the monthly sales figures.
Often I get the comments that the cover model is “too young” or “not got enough tattoo coverage” and in one instance “she has a hole in her bra!” (I kid you not...). Out of my many tasks as editor, getting the cover just right has to be the hardest part of my job (other than writing this column!). Get it right and the sales reflect this, get it wrong and my publishers want to know why.
Probably the main question is: “why do you always have women on the covers, not men?” The answer to that is simple; Sex sells. It’s a sad indictment that in today’s supposed enlightened times of sexual equality; we still have to have pretty girls on the cover to sell the magazine. Sad, but true. We have to appeal to the masses and statistically; a tattooed lady sells more magazines than a male with similar tattoos.
We at Skin Deep have tried various cover combinations over the past sixteen years to hopefully get the mix just right. Previously we have had women, men and indeed couples on the covers and without a doubt the issues with a good looking lady, sporting great ink, tend to do the best in terms of sales, and despite what Skin Deep stands for (great, solid tattoos and in-depth tattoo information from within the worldwide tattoo industry) we, or should I say, my publishers, are in the business of selling magazines.
It costs money to produce each issue of Skin Deep (taking into account my ridiculously insane rider of a thousand blue Smarties and a bottle of Absinthe served on a gilt tray carried by three monkeys riding pigs dressed as jockeys each month) and these costs have to be recouped through the sales of the magazine.
I can’t get away, as much as I would like from time to time, with having a perfectly good looking chap, equally with superbly designed tattoos grace the front cover; it can spell disaster sales-wise, therefore we have to use girls.
Another comment is "the magazine is always next to the porn section”, that is down to the shopkeepers not necessarily knowing a great deal about the content of the magazine. I like to think that the covers of Skin Deep are not as ‘sexual ‘ as some of the Lads’ mags that are set directly at eye level in many newsagents. They use a woman’s sexuality to blatantly sell their titles. We do not and I hope Skin Deep brings you a well-informed tattoo magazine with in-depth interviews and pages of exquisite tattoos from the best exponents of their art from around the world regardless of the cover image. Also may I suggest that you take the opportunity to talk to your local shopkeeper and explain what the magazine is about. By opening up that discussion you may be able to influence where Skin Deep is placed on the shelf and avoid the monthly “porn surfing” experience.
To this end, on page 55 of this issue, we have a readers’ questionnaire. Please find the time to fill it in and send it back; as we aren’t arrogant enough to think we know all the answers and always appreciate feedback be it good or bad, constructive or otherwise.