Skills: Cover Design

(614) Magazine Cover: Jim Obergefell

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I designed this cover for the August 2015 issue of (614) Magazine, which covered the Supreme Court ruling in June 2015 to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. The decision was largely sparked by Cincinnati native Jim Obergefell (pictured on the cover above) who married his partner John Arthur in Maryland in 2013 as he was dying from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Arthur would die three months after their wedding. Due to the same-sex marriage ban in Ohio, Obergefell had to fight in court to have his name on John’s death certificate as the surviving spouse. After a lengthy process, Obergefell’s lawsuit ultimately led to the same-sex marriage ban being struck down. After the historic decision, Obergefell said, “Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court affirms what millions across the country already know to be true in our hearts: that our love is equal.” He expressed his hope that the term gay marriage soon will be a thing of the past and henceforth only be known as marriage.

Before acquiring this beautiful portrait of Jim Obergefell by Emma Parker, we had tried several other directions for the cover that just weren’t quite working. It quickly became clear that this photo was our best option, but communicating Obergefell’s complex story on a cover would prove to be a challenge. Rather than using a typical headline treatment, (614) editor-in-chief Travis Hoewischer had the idea to tell Obergefell’s story in quick-hitting sentences, ending with the phrase “all love is equal.” I then began designing, and eventually landed on the treatment you see above. I incorporated a rainbow color scheme so that the LGBQT aspect would be apparent upon first glance.

Of all the things I’ve designed in my life, this makes me the most proud because it captured a landmark moment for human rights in the United States. It was humbling to play a role in telling Obergefell’s story.

Read an interview with Jim Obergefell at 614columbus.com