I think that the Byline covers are extremely important; in fact, superficial as it may sound to some, I think the cover is one of the most important elements of our publication. The reasons I feel this way are certainly rooted in my own experience as a reader of Byline over the past number of years. I remember flicking through the Express without having much of a clue as to how it was laid out, or what was to come with each passing page and section. I’d scan each page and what would catch my eye would be a pure lottery – maybe a feature on a musical artist I liked; perhaps an image with colours pleasing to the eye and worth a second look, it varied completely with each issue I read. The only constant, however, was that of the Byline cover.
Typically a sprawling artwork or tasteful portrait photograph, the Byline cover was – and remains to be – the only page in the Express devoted entirely to the exhibition of one artwork or image. The cover’s job is to set the tone of the new issue; to make a bold statement and trust that the rest of the issue will follow up. It’s like saying “yeah I’m worth your time, now take a look inside. I dare you”.
These thoughts, among others, are what have inspired the emphasis and increased focus on creating the perfect covers this year. “Pacing Forward” were the words plastered across the front-cover of last issue’s Byline – two words powerful in their simplicity; striking in their intentionality, taken from an interview with Marcus Woods which was the masthead of our most previous issue. Pacing Forward summed-up not only the interview with a sound-maker on the rise such as Woods; but how, in my opinion, it felt to read that issue. It was initially plotted to be our first print issue of the year, and it felt like we were really making strides as an editorial team. Despite not being able to print, I still felt like the title fit. With COVID breaking our collective bollocks and hindering us at what felt like every turn, our persistence and refusal to stop working in itself was enough to constitute our own act of Pacing Forward.
As you have seen, this issue is all about “Every day ‘till now”. It’s a line from Alex Gough’s FOREVER CLASSIC – the title track of his newly released mixtape, which he sat down to discuss with me for this issue. The full line goes “It’s not about this song, it’s not about this tape, it’s about every day ‘till now that I spent making my way”, and that’s the vibe that I hope comes across in this issue. It’s not about whether individual issues go to print or get published digitally. It’s not about individual issues at all; or Editors, or even Editorial teams. It’s about all that has been done so far, since 1997; carrying on the legacy of hardworking student writers who have gone before us, and in the face of any circumstances, to continue making our way.
Thank you for your continued support of Byline and the Express. It means more now than ever before. Enjoy the issue.