This year, like last, New York Magazine have invited a handful of designers to submit ideas for our “Best of New York” cover. They included Brooklyn-based street artist KAWS; book-jacket designer Evan Gaffney; Stefanie Barth and Julie Hirschfeld, from the graphic-design studio Stiletto NYC; Mother Design, from the ad agency Mother; and magazine and book designer Tom Brown.

There were many wonderful submissions, some of which we’ve published here. In the end, we decided to go with the design by KAWS; it seemed the most optimistic—and we felt we could all use a little optimism these days. The career of KAWS, a.k.a. Brian Donnelly, has skyrocketed recently: Just last year, he opened two solo exhibitions (in Miami and at Gering & López Gallery on Fifth Avenue) and designed Kanye West’s latest album cover, which recently appeared on a Times Square billboard. He was in L.A. opening another solo show (the line reportedly stretched 700 yards down La Cienega) when he got our call to participate, so he faxed in a sketch from his hotel room. “As soon as I heard ‘Best of New York,’ I thought, Great—text—I’ll bang it out,” he says. “But it actually took me a long time. I always have a general idea of how I want the letters to look, but then they’ll get their own personalities as I’m drawing them.”