In January 2014, when I was still editor of this magazine, I went with art director Katie Moorman to the University of Sussex to kick-start a project whereby their final-year Product Design students designed a cover for us, with the idea that the best one would be used to front our March edition (#14).
There were two or three that were good enough to use. One, however, stood out: that of Rebecca Cunningham, featuring three iconic Brighton & Hove buildings in subtle pastel shades of yellow and blue. It was, she now tells us, the first time she’d ever used Photoshop.
The name ‘Rebecca Cunningham’ should be ringing more than a few bells. We were so impressed with the cover, and the way Rebecca presented it, that we asked her if she’d like to do some work experience with us, over the subsequent summer. Within a very short time she was on the payroll, proving herself an all-rounder capable of writing great stories, taking fine pictures, and helping with the lay-out and production of the pages. She eventually rose to Deputy Editor of both Viva Brighton and its sister publication, Viva Lewes.
Four-and-a-bit years, and 50 issues down the line, Rebecca is moving on from Viva, in order to travel round South-East Asia, “until my money runs out”. Once we’d got over the shock, we thought it would be a neat idea to ask her to design this month’s cover, following our theme of ‘film’.
“If the cinema I’m depicting looks familiar,” she says, “it’s because it’s based on the Duke of York’s… with a lot of artistic licence.” There’s some continuity there: Brighton’s oldest cinema was one of the three buildings she included in her original cover.
The masthead – in the place of the cinema’s name – is a Photoshopped version of a 20s-looking font she found in a photo on the internet. “I’ve added some shine, and roughed up the edges, and added some skew, because the picture isn’t straight on,” she says.
The colour scheme might look familiar, too. “It’s funny, when I think back to my favourite Viva covers, a lot of them have had yellow (or orange) and blue as the prominent tones,” she says. In particular, she cites the hipster on the seafront one, by Tommy Pocket (#28), and the characters sliding down a printing press one, by Olivia Waller (#52). “I’ve realised I like covers with people in them,” she adds.
And so this image is peopled with a variety of characters, stylised from photographs Rebecca has found on the internet. The girl, hand-in-hand with her date, is based on her; the projectionist is from her own photo of the Duke of York’s 35mm projectionist, Jimmy, who she interviewed for Viva a while ago.
We love it, of course, and we’re delighted to say we’ll see it again: Rebecca has promised to take the issue with her and send us back a pic for our Spread the Word section in the December issue. Bon voyage!