Tale of Two Covers: Something in the Air


For our last entry in the Olympic Week, we are going to compare two covers that have very similar designs, and the same image. When I was making my search for covers, I came upon both these and was struck by the design, it was only after the second cover I began to think, was it because of the design that I was so drawn to the covers, or was it the image? The image is no doubt about it, iconic. Is it the imager that make the cover, or the design? Sometimes as designers, do we just step back from the work and just let the image speak.

The first cover is Something in the Air: American Passion and Defiance in the 1968 Mexico City OlympicsThe image is unmistakeable and I like the use of the splash of color in the bar.

For those of you not familiar with the cover.In the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, African American sprinter’s Tommie Smith and John Carlos who won the gold and bronze medals in the 200 meter race respectively, chose the medal ceremony to enact a political statement of “black power” or “black consciousness” over human rights they felt were denied them and other African Americans because of their race. Its is notable that the two athletes have different hands raise, because they only had one pair of black gloves between them. More can be read here.


Published by Free Press

The second cover is Not the Triumph But the Struggle: 1968 Olympics and the Making of the Black Athlete. Similar design, full color photo this time, and they’ve removed the other winning athlete. I like the cover, but I wonder if those vertical lines could have been removed? I like to keep things simple.

Published by The University of Minnesota

In this case, I think after examining both covers, the image is so much more, bigger, than the designs. To put it another way, it transcends. There is so much emotion and history behind this image, its larger than the book, and speaks volumes on its own.

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