Often, the covers depict evergreen scenarios and events: the drama of a busy New York street, the start of baseball season, or a national holiday like Halloween or Thanksgiving. Since the 1990s, when Tina Brown edited the magazine, they’ve also responded to topical socio-political issues—from the Iraq War to the civil-rights battle for gay marriage. A typical cover might be inspirational and moving, but it could just as easily be a laugh-out-loud visual pun. (Take
’s 1998 cover commenting on the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal, which shows a throng of press pointing microphones not at Clinton’s face, but at a bulge in his pants.)
They’ve also become weekly catnip for many liberally minded readers; over the past year, in particular, photos of New Yorker
covers commenting on the Trump presidency and its policies have gone viral across social media. On February 13th, a cover by John W. Tomac nodded incisively to Trump’s executive order against immigration, more commonly referred to as the Muslim ban or travel ban. It depicted the Statue of Liberty holding an extinguished torch; on The New Yorker
’s Instagram account, it received
The magazine’s famed art editor, Françoise Mouly, is the person who fields the deluge of cover submissions. Mouly is known for assigning commissions to a regular stable of seasoned illustrators, like Spiegelman (her husband), Barry Blitt, Christoph Niemann, and Maira Kalman. (She herself curated a now mostly dormant blog of declined cover art, called Blown Covers, in 2012 to correspond with a book of the same name.)
Dylan, for his part, has been emailing fully-rendered cover ideas to Mouly on and off for the past 10-odd years. But his passion for The New Yorker’s cover extends back to the beginning of his career. As an upstart illustrator working in Montreal in the mid-2000s, he modeled posters for noise and indie rock shows on the magazine’s aesthetic. When he arrived in New York, he connected with a community of artists, like Ryan and Gash, who had similar aspirations to land a cover spot.
All three are quick to emphasize that, more than anything, their Not Yorker project is a sincere homage to The New Yorker and its importance as a guiding light for the illustration community. “It’s not in any way a slight to the covers that make it,” elaborates Gash. “It’s just that the magazine gets so many submissions, that we thought it would be nice to have a venue for the work that doesn’t quite make the cut.”