You’ve got to admire their front! Winners revealed for the 2021 magazine cover prize

A stylish magazine which would shine on the nation’s newsstands is the winner of the 2021 cover prize for Journalism students at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Escape is an elegant health and lifestyle mag with a design to grace any coffee table. The one-off publication, which was created by DMU students Izzi Rix, Matthew Childs and Abbie Wilkinson as part of the final year of their Journalism degree, beat off strong challenges by rival titles to claim the annual award.

The prize was judged this year by Joe Brewin, deputy editor of the biggest football magazine in the world, FourFourTwo, who said he was “genuinely really impressed” with the standard of the magazines on the shortlist.

But it was Escape, with its serene cover image created by up-and-coming young illustrator Liv Phillips, that really caught his eye. He said: “I immediately know what I’m getting with it: the ‘health, style, culture, society’ line leaves you with no doubt about the kind of stories you’re going to be reading about, and they’ve managed to cleverly cram some 14 cover lines on there without it looking cramped.

“Chances are, anyone could pick that up off the shelf and be drawn to at least one story they’d be interested in reading. So it’s functional. But then there’s the newsstand appeal: each one of the mags up for judging did a good job of including a striking image on there (particularly MMXX, which I enjoyed), but I liked the cleanliness of Escape as a full package – it’d definitely stand out in a sea of other titles at Smiths, for example, which is so important.”

Escape editor Izzi said: “I’m delighted Escape won the cover prize! We really thought about every aspect of what makes a great cover and essentially designed what we would love to see on a newsstand. Liv created an illustration that perfectly encapsulates the magazine’s essence and we can’t thank her enough. It’s incredibly rewarding to have our time and effort acknowledged. Thank you!” 

The story on the announcement of the shortlist has become the best-read article in the history of Leicestershire Press. A just-for-fun poll asking readers to vote for their own favourite cover attracted more than 20,000 votes. Rivo magazine, created by Isatou Ndure, Rhys Bailey, Victoria Kingsley and Omar Qavi, was the clear victor there, with Horizon in second place.

Students on both the single- and joint-honours Journalism programme at DMU create magazines and websites as part of their final year studies. DMU Journalism graduates have gone on to work on magazine titles including Mixmag and Clash.

The team behind Escape will share the £200 prize.