ASME Announces Winners of 2021 Best Cover Contest + Awards for Photography and Illustration

New Yorker’s George Floyd Issue Named Cover of the Year; Rolling Stone’s McCartney and Swift Collect Readers’ Choice Award

New York, NY (July 22, 2021)—The American Society of Magazine Editors today announced the finalists and winners of the 2021 ASME Best Cover Contest. The New Yorker’s “Say Their Names,” depicting George Floyd and other victims of racial violence, was named Cover of the Year. Rolling Stone’s Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift cover won the Readers’ Choice Award.

Now in its 15th year, the ASME Best Cover Contest includes 10 categories, ranging from Best News and Politics Cover and Best Entertainment and Celebrity Cover to Most Delicious Cover and Most Controversial Cover. The finalists and winners are chosen by leading editors, art directors and photo editors. The ASME Board of Directors selects the Cover of the Year. Covers entered in the ASME Best Cover Contest are also posted on Facebook, where users like their favorites in each category. The most popular cover overall wins the Readers’ Choice Award.

The Cover of the Year was illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Mary McCartney photographed Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift for Rolling Stone.

Photographers and illustrators whose work was honored also included Charlotte Rutherford (Best Entertainment and Celebrity Cover) for Rolling Stone; Adrian Tomine (Best Business and Technology Cover) and Brian Stauffer (Most Controversial Cover) for The New Yorker; Jeremy Cohen (Best Service and Lifestyle Cover) for New York; the Sporting Press (Best Sports and Fitness Cover) for Sports Illustrated; Daniella Midenge (Best Fashion and Beauty Cover) for Allure; Meredith Andrews (Best Travel and Adventure Cover) for Travel + Leisure; and Titus Kaphar (Best Illustrated Cover) for TIME.

The Awards for Photography and Illustration, presented this year for only the second time, honor visual excellence both in print and online. Among the photographers whose work won awards this year were Isaac Scott (Best News, Sports and Entertainment Photograph) and Silvia Rosi (Best Photo Portfolio, Service and Lifestyle) for The New Yorker; Mackenzie Smith Kelley (Best Service and Lifestyle Photograph) for Texas Monthly; Dario Catellani (Best Fashion and Beauty Photograph) for WSJ. Magazine; Ethan James Green (Best Profile Photograph) for Vanity Fair; and Jon Henry (Best Conceptual Photograph) and Todd James and James Wellford (Best Photo Portfolio, News, Sports and Entertainment) for National Geographic.

Also honored was the work of illustrator Calida Rawles (Best Print Illustration) for Vanity Fair; designer and illustrator Ines Alpha and photographer Daniella Midenge (Best Digital Illustration) for Allure; and illustrator Molly Crabapple (Best Illustrated Story) for The Marshall Project.

Nearly 400 entries were submitted this year in the ASME Best Contest Cover + Awards for Photography and Illustration. The awards were judged by 125 ASME members and other journalists. Readers’ Choice voting began February 1 on Facebook and lasted a month. Finalists and winners were first announced in an hour-long Twittercast.

To view the ASME Best Cover Contest + Awards for Photography and Illustration 2021 finalists and winners, click here. To view past honorees, click here


Cover of the Year

The New Yorker for "Say Their Names," June 22

Best News and Politics Cover 

Winner: The New Yorker for "Say Their Names," June 22 

Finalists: The California Sunday Magazine for "The Longest Walk to America," April; New York for "Covid Capital of the World," April 13–26; O, The Oprah Magazine for "Breonna Taylor," September; TIME for "The Overdue Awakening," June 22 

Readers' Choice: Luckbox for "The Main Event," November 2020 

Best Entertainment and Celebrity Cover 

Winner: Rolling Stone for "Grimes," March 5 

Finalists: The New York Times Magazine for "Wrestling With 'West Side Story,'" January 26; Rolling Stone for "Lizzo," February; Variety for "Citizen Fincher," November 18; WSJ. Magazine for "The Innovators Issue," November 

Readers' Choice: Rolling Stone for "Musicians on Musicians," featuring Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift, December 

Best Business and Technology Cover 

Winner: The New Yorker for "Love Life," December 7 

Finalists: The California Sunday Magazine for "The Lucrative, Largely Unregulated, and Widely Misunderstood World of Vaping," February 2; Fortune for "The World at a Crossroads," August/September; Fortune for "Elon Musk's Rocket Ride," December/January; The Highlight by Vox for "The End of the American Dream," July 15 

Readers’ Choice: Wine Enthusiast for "40 Under 40," October

Best Service and Lifestyle/Most Delicious Cover

Winner: New York for "Life Apart," March 30–April 12

Finalists: Garden & Gun for "Best of the Sporting South," October/November; New York for "Listening to the Very Old," May 25–June 7; Popular Mechanics for "Maps," July/August; Texas Monthly for "The Year of the Taco," December

Best Service and Lifestyle Readers’ Choice: Concealed Carry for "True Stories," January 

Most Delicious Readers’ Choice: Garden & Gun for "Forgotten Recipes," August/September 

Best Sports and Fitness Cover 

Winner: Sports Illustrated for "Empty Arena," April 

Finalists: ESPN for "Kobe Bryant," February; ESPN for "Sabrina Ionescu," March; Glamour for "The Goals Issue," March 31; TIME for "Kobe Bryant," February 10 

Readers’ Choice: Sports Illustrated for "Empty Arena," April 

Best Fashion and Beauty Cover 

Winner: Allure for "The Future of Beauty," September 

Finalists: Allure for "The Art of Beauty," February; New York for "Janelle Monáe," February 3; Vanity Fair for "Viola Davis," July/August; Vogue for "Hope: A Special Issue," September 

Readers’ Choice: GQ for "Hiding Out in Woodstock With Timothée Chalamet," November 

Best Travel and Adventure Cover 

Winner: Travel + Leisure for "Pure Escapism," November 

Finalists: 5280 for "Inside Colorado National Monument," June; Garden & Gun for "The Insider's Guide to Charleston," February/March; Southern Living for "Warm Getaways," January/February; Stranger's Guide for "South Korea," Spring 

Readers’ Choice: Garden & Gun for "The Insider's Guide to Charleston," February/March 

Best Illustrated Cover 

Winner: TIME for George Floyd cover "Analogous Colors," June 15 

Finalists: Bloomberg Markets for "The Credit Issue," April/May; McSweeney's Quarterly for Issue 61; The New York Times Magazine for "What We've Learned in Quarantine," May 24; Rolling Stone for "American Uprising," July; Vanity Fair for Breonna Taylor cover "The Great Fire," September 

Readers’ Choice: Physician Outlook for front and back covers of June-July issue 

Most Controversial 

Winner: The New Yorker for "Under Control," March 9 

Finalists: Bloomberg Businessweek for "What, Me Partisan?," September 21; New York for "How the Mayor Lost the City," June 22–July 5; New York for "Sin City," November 23–December 6; TIME for "An American Failure," September 21 

Readers’ Choice: VICE for "The Stupid Issue," March 

Readers’ Choice Award 

Winner: Rolling Stone for "Musicians on Musicians," featuring Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift, December 

Finalists: Concealed Carry for "True Stories," January; Concealed Carry for "On Point," April; NYLON for "Machine Gun Kelly," November 17; Variety for "Wild About Harry," December 2 


Best News, Sports and Entertainment Photograph 

Winner: The New Yorker for "A Photographer on the Front Lines of Philadelphia’s Protests," June 22 

Finalists: National Geographic for "A World Gone Viral," November; New York for "100 Women. One Trial," January 6–19; Texas Monthly for "A Plague on All Our Houses," May; Vanity Fair for "Minneapolis BLM Protests," June 

Best Service and Lifestyle Photograph 

Winner: Texas Monthly for "Let's Salsa!," December 

Finalists: Bloomberg Businessweek for "Meet the Bro-och," February 10; Eater for "Penn Quarter Has a Grand New Hotel Brasserie That Pushes ‘High-Low’ to the Max," February 4; Travel + Leisure for "Destination of the Year: Italy," December; WSJ. Magazine for "Higher Ground," March 

Best Fashion and Beauty Photograph 

Winner: WSJ. Magazine for "Chasing Waterfalls," November 

Finalists: Allure for "Go Big or Go Home," March; GQ Style for "Global Giant," Spring; Vanity Fair for "Pattern Player," October; WSJ. Magazine for "Dancing in the Streets," March 

Best Profile Photograph 

Winner: Vanity Fair for "The Great Entertainers," Hollywood 

Finalists: Bloomberg Businessweek for "Bloomberg 50: Anthony Fauci," December 7; GQ for "The King of Quarantine," June/July; The Marshall Project for "The Hidden Trauma of 'Short Stays' in Foster Care," February 11; Texas Monthly for "How Danny Trejo Built a Decades-Long Film Career After Prison," October 2 

Best Conceptual Photograph 

Winner: National Geographic for "Every Mother's Son," October 

Finalists: AARP The Magazine for "How to Survive Anything: House Fire," June/July; Bloomberg Businessweek for "Is Google Burning Small Business?," August 10; New York for "Janelle Monáe’s Afrofuture," February 3; WIRED for "TikTok's Evolution of Digital Blackface," September 

Best Photo Portfolio, News, Sports and Entertainment 

Winner: National Geographic for "A World Gone Viral," November 

Finalists: GQ for "Visible Men," December 2020/January 2021; New York for "New York, Four Weeks In," April 13-26; The New York Times Magazine for "Democracy by Mail," November 15; TIME for "'I Absolutely Will Not Back Down.' Meet the Young People at the Heart of Hong Kong's Rebellion," January 22 

Best Photo Portfolio, Service and Lifestyle 

Winner: The New Yorker for "Grace Wales Bonner’s Visions of Black Style," September 7 

Finalists: Fortune for "The Greatest Designs of Modern Times," April; National Geographic for "Everest from Above," July; WSJ. Magazine for "Strongest Suits," September; WSJ. Magazine for "Kith & Kin," September 

Best Print Illustration 

Winner: Vanity Fair for "Witness and Respair," September 

Finalists: Bloomberg Businessweek for "Disney's Not the Happiest Place on Earth These Days," October 12; New York for "Enablement," October 26–November 8; The New Yorker for "Because the Night," May 11; Rolling Stone for "The Price of Isolation," July 

Best Digital Illustration 

Winner: Allure for "The Future of Beauty Issue," September 

Finalists: The Believer for "Escapes and Trapdoors: Diversions from Life in Poverty," September 1; The Marshall Project for "She Said Her Husband Hit Her. She Lost Custody of Their Kids," July 8; The New Yorker for "Notes On Grief," September 10; Vanity Fair for "They Went To Jared," November 

Best Illustrated Story 

Winner: The Marshall Project for "The Zo," February 27 

Finalists: The California Sunday Magazine for "What Happened in Room 10?," August 23; National Geographic for "Bodies in Motion," May; The New Yorker for "Dispatches from a Pandemic," April 13; The New Yorker for "Junban," December 28 

All publication dates 2020 unless otherwise indicated

About ASME 

The American Society of Magazine Editors is the principal organization for the editorial leaders of magazines and websites published in the United States. Founded in 1963, ASME strives to safeguard the First Amendment, support the development of journalism and defend the editorial integrity of print and digital publications. ASME sponsors the National Magazine Awards in association with the Columbia Journalism School, conducts training programs for reporters and editors and publishes the ASME Guidelines for Editors and Publishers.


Sidney Holt
Executive Director, ASME
[email protected]