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posted on September 2, 2013

Leigh Wells Lettering Illustration Time Magazine Gun Violence

Do Words Kill?


In January 2011,  after the Arizona shootings, I got a call from D.W. Pine at TIME Magazine to work on possible cover for their January 24th issue. The focus was to be the debate about charged political rhetoric that preceded the tragedy in Tucson — and then was revived by it. He had an idea that was very well suited to my work, using a composition of hand lettering within a silhouette of a Glock pistol. After reading the current editorials connecting heated political discussion with violence, I had a list of words to start with, and made this first sketch:

TIME magazine sketch

The next step was bringing in the editors at the magazine for some feedback on my list. They followed up with their own list, and a tighter sketch followed.


With the sketch approved, I made finished artwork in a few different color variations. This is the one the client picked to present for the cover meeting. With fingers crossed, I sent along the art. At this point in Time’s publication cycle, one doesn’t know which cover will be selected to run, since often a number of directions are being pursued simultaneously to cover a number of different bases, content and style-wise. This time, my piece didn’t run on the cover. This cover dealing more specifically with the Arizona situation with the headline “Guns, Speech, Madness” was favored over the more general topic conveyed in my image.


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