Cover art at Nature Methods

An inside view into how we select and create our cover art.
Published in Protocols & Methods
Cover art at Nature Methods

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This month Nature Methods celebrates its 15th anniversary. As part of this celebration, we highlight not only the science, but also the artistry that goes into making our issue covers.

Some of our covers are designed to feature special issues, such as a Focus issue or our Method of the Year. This month's 15th anniversary issue features a "15" made out of previous cover artworks: 

We invite our authors to submit cover artwork, and most months we usually have several options to choose from. We generally select our cover artwork on its pure aesthetic value, not based on what we perceive about a paper's potential impact. Some author-submitted images are so striking that we simply use them as-is, for example this beautiful image of vascularized kidney organoids provided by Kimberly Homan and Navin Gupta:

Or this one, representing vector drawings indicating the movement of nuclei in a fly embryo, from Kristin Branson, Fernando Amat, William Lemon and Philipp Keller:

Our talented staff cover artist, Erin Dewalt, has had a hand in designing many of our covers since 2004. She often takes inspiration from scientific images or data, such as this one which shows a swirl of protein structures solved by structural genomics consortia in 2008:

Or this one, which represents an analysis of the "dark" proteome:

For other covers, she has created drawings from scratch, such as this cover representing DNA sequencing:

Some of our covers have been inspired by famous artists, including Andy Warhol (zebrafish images provided by Wolfram Goessling and Trista North):

Or Piet Mondrian (image from Chiara Nicoletti, representing Hi-C maps):

Or mathematical concepts, such as this beautiful (and biologically relevant!) example of Voronoi tessellation (artwork by J Liu):

One of our most fun cover-creation efforts, for our 5th anniversary issue, involved commissioning a bakery to recreate our very first cover... cake format. (PS - it was delicious!)

Long-time readers of the print version of Nature Methods might have noticed some recent changes in our cover's appearance. In an effort to harmonize the look of all the Nature Research journals, our upper and lower white margins were removed. Our first issue with this change was in June 2018 (images from Pierre Bon):

While we like our new look, this "full-bleed" format has caused some design challenges. For example, we decided to discontinue our Method of the Year motif with a globe constructed from cover art from the preceding year... a new typography motif that works with the full-bleed format:

To celebrate some of our favorite covers at Nature Methods, our journalist Vivien Marx created this video:

Working with authors and our artist Erin to design our covers is definitely a fun part of being an editor. We hope you enjoy looking at our covers as much as we enjoy creating them!

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Go to the profile of Ben Johnson
over 4 years ago

I loved reading the story behind the covers - and am always a fan of science cake!

Go to the profile of Ruth Milne
over 4 years ago

I love the Mondrian one!

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Biological Techniques
Life Sciences > Biological Sciences > Biological Techniques

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