Skip to content
Spy covers by Richard Turley
Cover story

Spy covers by Richard Turley

As the US election reaches its climax here’s a quick look at a cheeky magazine project Richard Turley has quietly been working on.

The original Spy laid into Trump as be developed his Manhattan property business

Since leaving Bloomberg Businessweek, Turley spent a couple of years reinventing MTV but has recently moved again to global ad agency Weiden Kennedy, where he has a roving creative role. This allows him to get involved with projects as he wishes, and an election pop-up version of eighties satire mag Spy sucked him right in. The magazine had mercilessly observed Donald Trump’s initial rise to notoriety and his elevation to presidential candidate inspired a comeback via Esquire magazine (and note it’s not only Trump who receives a visual mauling on the covers).


‘Publishers Hearst asked if any of the brands we worked with would be interested in sponsoring the Spy election project.’ Turley explains, ‘and once the account executives stopped laughing about the idea of paying for the privilege of their logo being associated with Trump, they politely said fuck off.’ Instead, Turley proposed a series of fake banner ads to run with Spy’s online election coverage. If you saw his work for MTV these spoof gifs will be familiar.


Before he knew it Turley was designing a series of tribute Spy covers. ‘They came about when we met before Spy went live and Esquire editor Jay Fielden said in a suitably charming and you-can't-say-no way “well, how about you doing a few covers.” How could I say no?’


Does he miss magazines? ‘I’d love to do a newspaper or magazine redesign again. I keep trying to get Mushpit to hire me but apparently I'm “lacking relevancy and connection” to their 18-30 reactionary DIY demographic. I think they're just trying to say I’m old.’


The Spy covers are beautiful tributes to the originals, this final one adding a rich serving of Norman Rockwell to the mix (art by David Parking).

Magazine publishing has missed Turley’s intelligent provocations and the thought of him and the Mushpit team together is intriguing — compare his fake banners and their parody advertising. It’s typical of our times – big and small converging.

I wonder where he’ll pop up next?

Previous post White Zinfandel #Vl
Next post David and Adrian, Buffalo Zine