Classic Art Department Mastheads: First in a Series

Classic Art Department Mastheads: First in a Series We're not only fans of old magazines, we're fans of old magazine mastheads. On a recent search through the Google collection of digitized magazines, we came across the July 1994 issue of Spy, which featured a great collection of folks on the art department masthead. This inspired the first of what we hope is an ongoing series of looks back at classic art departments. Thanks to everyone from the Spy crew who contributed memories (see follow page).

Magazine: Spy, July 1994
Robert George: design director
Amid Capeci: art director
Elisabeth Sinsabaugh: photo editor
Edel Rodriguez: production assistant
Jennifer Lipshy: photo intern

Amy B. Conway: copy editor

See a great slideshow of covers and inside pages from Spy here.


Rob George: I took over at the newly revived Spy as design director in 1994. The new owners had just rescued it from bankruptcy, and I was already the group DD for their company (they also published Psychology Today and Mother Earth News). We had a mandate to reinvent the magazine and do it at light-speed. Luckily Amid Capeci--my former deputy at Travel Holiday magazine--was interested in tackling the job. Equally fortunate was adding Elisabeth Sinsabaugh as photo editor and Edel Rodriguez as production assistant. I was overseeing three magazines, sleepless and cranky.

I had an amazing time doing Spy. We were given almost no real journalistic boundaries, and even our lawyers were eager to test the limits. I quickly became schooled in what was fraud, libel, and defamation, and what wasn't. We set out to try any cockamamie spoof as long as it was the satirical truth. We faked selling President Bill Clinton's endorsements to Fortune 500 companies, and tweaked J. Crew's precious catalogs with our own "gangsta" version.

We were a small staff, so everybody got to kick in creatively. Editors proposed photo concepts, art directors pitched stories and wrote headlines, and photo routinely created magic. It was an intense and daily challenge at Spy, but I had a blast. My fondest memories are working with all those talented people.

(Robert George later formed his own studio, George Design, was the creative director of Latina, and continues to work for a broad range of clients. He has also had a second career as a voiceover artist. Check out his voiceover clips here.)

Amid Capeci: I never actually worked at Spy. I was actually the deputy AD at Esquire and I was moonlighting at their 21st Street loft after hours. This was after the original Spy filed for bankruptcy. We had all the Macintosh plusses that still had Alexander Isley's original design elements on them (icons drawn in Freehand, SyQuest disks, Garamond No. 3!) We worked in a stifling hot loft space, with lots of beer and laughs. It was definitely like working on the college newspaper, as editors dictated pullquotes over your shoulder. I met my wife Amy Conway there. She was a copy editor. Now she's an editor at Martha Stewart Living.

(Amid Capeci has been the art director of Rolling Stone and Newsweek. He is currently the design director of Entertainment Weekly.)

Edel Rodriguez: We had some fun times there. It was in the summer of 1994. I had just graduated college and was looking everywhere for a job. Since I had interned at Spy the year before I looked them up and got in touch. Spy had just been sold to a new publisher who also published Psychology Today and Mother Earth News, and the whole staff had turned over. They needed help, so Rob George brought me on right away. Rob was working on all the magazines, so he brought in Amid Capeci to art direct Spy that summer. Amid was still working at Esquire at the time.

We all worked a lot of late nights at Spy and built some great friendships. I learned so much from Amid and Rob since it was my first real-world design job. Amy Conway was the copy editor, and she and Amid later got married. I was there for a few months that summer and then got hired at Time. Time was bringing over a lot of writers and editors from the old Spy, and I think having worked at Spy helped me get a job there.

(Edel Rodriguez went on to become the art director of Time Canada and Latin America, and is now a noted illustrator.)

Elisabeth Sinsabaugh: I ended up at Spy by default. I was already the photo editor at Psychology Today and Mother Earth News, so when Sussex bought the newly defunct Spy magazine many of us there were assigned to that magazine as well. My first task was to go to Spy's abandoned offices and gather and pak up all the photos. I spent months finding their rightful owners.

Working at Spy required new skills be developed, including pretending I was someone other than the photo editor of Spy magazine, to obtain photos of compromised situations or weakness of politicians or celebrities. To create our notorious covers we were regularly casting body doubles or look-alikes. I remember being on the Newt Gingrich cover shoot and creative director Rob George insisting that the hair stylist trim the model's underarm hair because it was too long!

(Elisabeth Sinsabaugh has been the executive director of photography at NBC Universal for the past 15 years.) 

Related Links:
The complete collection of Spy magazine, at Google Magazines
  • Erik Spooner

    Nothing incorrect about lingo usage here. This post is all about coming across an old masthead (list of employees)? Whats the problem?

  • Koop

    I think that this is a great idea, and should be interesting to see what others are chosen to be showcased. Nice write up.

    At the risk of sounding like a bitter old man, how about we address the lingo in the title of the post.

    Referring to the logo on the cover of a magazine as the "Masthead" is actually incorrect and the last place I would expect to publish this misuse of terminology.

    Masthead has mistakenly been used so often instead of the correct terms of nameplate or flag that it has taken over through common misuse.

    The "Masthead" is a list of the editorial/publishing staff and anyone whom was involved in the creation of that particular edition of the magazine.

    All in all, if we are going to be editorial nerds let's at least be educated ones.

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