Magazine art directors spend a lot of time entertaining dark suspicions about cover-image plagiarism. Often the suspicious covers just end up being a) a hackneyed concept or b) something that's in the Zeitgeist, floating into heads at the same time.
But sometimes you get this:
On the left is the spring 2007 cover of T Magazine, the New York Times' flossy journal about food, travel, shopping, and people with way too much money. On the right, the current issue of Coast, a periodical out of Newport Beach, Calif. dedicated to food, travel, shopping, and people with way too much money.
Sure, two similar magazines might independently conceive of a cover consisting of a close-up of a beautiful woman (with way too much money) eating a sandwich.
...the cropping on the mouth?
...the panini, complete with napkin, grill marks, lettuce, and tomato?
...the blood-red manicures?
...and the ugly rings, placed exactly on the same finger?
The people at T Magazine think Coast has some explaining to do, but they're taking a good-humored, chiding tone. And who knows if this was the work of an independently hired photographer, an art director, or even a stock photographer.
Meanwhile, what hits me is that the original was actually striking, while the copy is just an average magazine image. I think it has to do with the geometry of the original -- the oval of the face, the triangle of the sandwich, the circle of the tomato, the parallel lines of the fingers. All those elements are present in the other magazine, but they're not as well thought out. Or maybe it's just that the first one is just plain sexier -- the mouth as lubricious as a Rolling Stones album cover, the grill marks pointing inside. The girl in the second shot looks like someone told her "Hold the sandwich next to your face and open your mouth slightly."