The Restless Youth Issue

The Story Behind the Cover of VICE Magazine's 'Restless Youth' Issue

It started from the idea of visually capturing how millennials are reacting to today's political, environmental, and cultural issues.
May 2, 2017, 1:00pm

This story appears in the May issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE to subscribe.

I set out to design this month's cover with the idea of visually capturing how millennials are reacting to today's political, environmental, and cultural issues. It took a lot of research and exploration. Initially, we wanted to do something typographic—inspired by protest signs or how the media tends to condescend to the youth—but all our attempts ultimately proved too clichéd or overly playful and missed the mark. Then we tried something more tech-centric, but that also didn't quite grasp our issue's theme. It wasn't until we revisited photography, of the past and present, that we found our direction: We would alter a composition to tell a deeper narrative.


Licensing the image that we would later mirror was complicated. It originally appeared on the front page of the Ann Arbor News on Thursday, June 19, 1969, with a caption reading, "Girl watches riot police lining S. University Avenue." Later, the Bentley Historical Library catalogued the photo, and with a lot of back and forth, gaining permission to put it on the cover wasn't easy. But we felt we had to have it.

Using an archival photograph of a police line from the 60s, we hoped to show that perhaps we haven't made as much progress as one would wish—that there's still a pervading atmosphere of hopelessness, which the younger generation continues to fight against. Conflict is timeless. Change is difficult. The reflective and repetitive aspect of the image—the back of the girl, juxtaposed with a seemingly endless army of faceless officers—invokes claustrophobia. We think, in a way, it represents our current state: We've been backed into a corner, and there's no one else to turn to, except ourselves, our generation. —KITRON NEUSCHATZ

The Process

This was a tough cover to crack. We looked at more than 30 different mock-ups before settling on an idea that we thought best captured the sentiment of the issue. Here are a few of the rejected covers.

Kitron Neuschatz is an illustrator, designer, and art director for VICE. He's from South Kingstown, Rhode Island, and currently resides in Brooklyn.

Special thanks to Adam Mignanelli and Alex Cook.