Bloomberg Creative Director Richard Turley dishes on “The Hedge Fund Myth”

When Bloomberg Businessweek released the July 15 cover this morning, the reaction on Twitter ranged from “brilliant” to “inappropriate for young readers.” SND caught up with Creative Director Richard Turley, who gave us some insight into the stimulating cover.

Bloomberg Businessweek cover, July 15

Bloomberg Businessweek cover, July 15

First, who do we have to thank for this cover, in terms of creative? Was it all you, or were others involved?

Jaci Kessler and I designed it. Emily Keegin was the photo editor. Josh Tyrangiel wrote the cover lines.

Can you give us a little background on the editorial process for getting a cover like this approved?

I sent Josh a much more direct first iteration of the idea last week which could never be used (and will never see the light of day), just to get him thinking about this kind of cover treatment. He laughed (always a good sign). We carried on trying to get the idea into something that we could actually print. Then Jaci had the idea of using line charts with the person. That probably happened on Monday. We then spent a while getting the arrows right, we spent a bit of time trying to get the droopy one looking droopy enough. In the meantime Josh was sharing the idea with the other editors and assorted people here, getting their response – so everyone knew what we were thinking. Then there was a meeting on Wednesday morning (yesterday) when it was agreed this was the cover. A couple of hours later we sent it to the printers.

To go along with that, as soon as I saw the cover, I went to the website to read the article. In terms of the creative process, how did you get from an article about the state of hedge funds to what appears on the cover? Were there other covers that you seriously considered running with?

We had another cover for a story about Sears that we would have run instead. We had no other options for the hedge fund story though. It seemed very difficult to escape from this idea once it was hatched. Every other idea just seemed lame.

Tyrangiel said in a statement to Mashable, “The cover highlights the macho mythology of hedge fund managers, whose returns over the past decade have lagged behind the S&P 500. Yes, we’re making them the butt of a joke; we’re pretty sure they can take it.” So he seems to be pretty on-board with the cover. Did others within Businessweek have a different reaction? Did you get a reaction from the reporter, Sheelah Kolhatkar?

Sheelah loved it. Josh was totally on board, actually more than that, he worked hard to make sure we got it made, as he always does. He is an incredibly inspiring person to be around and to work for, if he believes in something he will fight for it – in much the same way our president Norm Pearlstine does, and all the senior figures at Bloomberg too. With Josh though, apart from being one of the smartest people around, he crucially has what all the very greatest editors need: no fear.

Bloomberg Businessweek cover, February 16.

Bloomberg Businessweek cover, February 16, 2012

This certainly isn’t the first “provocative” cover we’ve seen from Bloomberg Businessweek (I’m thinking specifically of the “Let’s Get It On” merger cover). How do you balance the line between provocative and tasteful? What do you think the cover added to the story?

We just try and put the best idea we have on the cover. Simple as that. We make 50 covers a year. Out of those fifty, one or two might be considered provocative, and naturally those are the ones that get zero’d in on. I hope though, that almost all our covers are considered at least ‘good’. Because that is the primary aim, despite what you may read or think about me. I only want to make good work, work that makes people think a bit and that in some small way pushes the medium forward.

Have you received much feedback from the cover yet? In the past, have you found your readers responding positively to your creativity?

I think so! No one has attacked me on the street yet. In fact one day I was in the supermarket and a complete stranger came up and said how much they liked the magazine. That was a nice moment, not something I ever expected to happen. I wished it hadn’t happened when I was wearing pajamas carrying a huge family sized pack of toilet paper, but there you go. Beggars can’t be choosers.

(Katie Myrick is a news designer at The Washington Post and editor of snd.org. Follow her on Twitter @katherinemyrick.)