The Genius That Is Carla Frank

The Genius That Is Carla Frank NEWCOWLESSIGNER.jpgBy Andy Cowles
andycowles.com

I have only ever subscribed to three magazines in my life. When I was eleven it was Military Modeling because I couldn't get in my village newsagent. Now it's The New Yorker, but for many years it was O, the Oprah Magazine, because I just loved the design.

Carla Frank was the launch creative director, and remained on the title for ten years, during which she produced some of the greatest and most moving editorial design I've ever seen.

oprah-joy-cover.pngAfter she left Oprah, Carla spent time on Cooking Light, but not so long ago she upped and went off to Italy, becoming the Creative Director of Italian Glamour for six issues. And what a stunning job she made of it. If you look at her site today it looks and feels completely reinvented.



italina-glamour-fashion.pngBut aside from marketing herself as a high-end fashionista she's also put in a shift as consultant Creative Director of Dr. Oz's The Good Life.

Dr. Oz.jpgI love Dr. Oz, but the launch issue was a dull affair, as I noted on my blog at the time. But Carla hold of it and delivered a spectacular U-turn, making it appear both high end and highly colorful at the same time. Fred Woodward and a few others can do this, but it's a really hard trick to pull off. I'm not sure what her next move will be, but as far as I'm concerned she's in the form of her life. To remind us of what we're missing, here are a few pieces I've culled from her archive.

Love.pngThe Italians are never shy of demonstrating a little public affection. I have no idea what this story for Italian Glamour is all about, but when it looks like this, does it really matter?

oprah-love.pngHere's another visualization of love, this time for Oprah. More cerebral, more thoughtful, but no less passion.

oprah-eat.pngThere are gazillions of amazing Oprah spreads I could choose, this addresses one of life's contemporary preoccupations, How To Eat.

cooking-light-spread.pngThe experience of which clearly stood Carla in good stead when she went over to Cooking Light, as this fine spread shows

licouire-fashion.pngSo by the time Carla got to Italian Glamour, she must have logged hundreds of food shoot hours. Just check out the quality of this, food, watches, bite marks. Amazing.

Oprah child abuse.jpgBut let's not forget about some of the hard-hitting journalism that Oprah delivered so powerfully. You won't find this spread on Carla's site, but in my view this is one of the most moving visualizations of an un-visualizable story I have ever seen.


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  • Mark Kelly

    I'm always a little suspicious when someone is labeled a genius, but in this case I have to agree. Carla recently did a redesign of Furman University's alumni magazine, and while a lesser known project than some of her commercial work I'd say the work is equally brilliant--an intelligent and artful reflection of the University that has captivated our readers. (Full disclosure: I'm the VP for Marketing at Furman).

    I first worked with Carla when I was editor of a university magazine in Baltimore and she was just getting her business underway in a tiny walk-up office at Charles and 21st (more years ago than either of us care to remember). Bereft best describes my feelings when she made her way to NYC, but we've maintained a friendship ever since, to my great wonder and delight. I will be forever indebted to her for teaching me the power of aesthetics and collaboration. She's one in 10 million.

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