Recently in SPD GUEST EDITOR Category

When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 11: Matt Wuerker

When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 11: Matt Wuerker

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

When Cartoonists Illustrate! There's often a line drawn between cartoonists and illustrators. All this week, I'm profiling talented people known for their cartooning and showing their work in an illustration context.

Matt Wuerker is the award-winning Politico staff cartoonist and illustrator, part of the original crew of Politico--built from scratch starting eight years ago.

WARD SUTTON: How do you like illustrating compared to cartooning?

MATT WUERKER:
I like both. Political cartoons are a solitary creative activity and can't be beat. But it's also good to get out of your own head and mix things up. I like the collaborative aspects of illustration: bouncing  around rough ideas and brainstorming with others is a lot of fun and opens up your creative thinking in a healthy way.


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When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 10: Bruce Eric Kaplan (BEK)

When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 10: Bruce Eric Kaplan (BEK)

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

When Cartoonists Illustrate! There's often a line drawn between cartoonists and illustrators. All this week, I'm profiling talented people known for their cartooning and showing their work in an illustration context.

Bruce Eric Kaplan is a cartoonist for The New Yorker (he signs his work BEK) and a television writer and producer.

WARD SUTTON: How do you like illustrating compared to cartooning?

BRUCE ERIC KAPLAN: Illustrating can be more relaxing at times, although perhaps not as fulfilling.


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Interview with Graphics Editor Jennifer Daniel:

Interview with Graphics Editor Jennifer Daniel: "I like it fast, dirty, impulsive, and a little sexy..."

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

From Design to Illustration to Animation, Jennifer Daniel does it all and does it all well in the world of graphics. As the graphics director at Bloomberg Businessweek she was a driving force of that magazine's visual voice (and groundbreaking imagery and design). She's currently a graphics editor at The New York Times in the San Francisco bureau covering technology and culture, and has a new kids book with Simon Rogers, Information Graphics: Space.

Jennifer maintains a smart (and often hilarious) online presence, she recently transplanted from NYC to Oakland, and, oh yeah, she gave birth to twins. Somehow she carved out yet some more time for me to interview her about the many ways she works.

WARD SUTTON: Graphics Creator, Illustrator, Designer... You have a myriad of talents. Is there one area you like working in best? Or do you enjoy the variety of creating in multiple ways?

JENNIFER DANIEL: I think most people see their paths as linear and it took me a long time to realize to stop treating illustration and journalism as separate things. I don't distinguish one from the other. Sometimes the approach is journalism, the execution is illustration. Other times I approach an assignment as a journalist but the final result is graphic design. By experimenting more internally, that diversity in range will have a good long-term effect. I don't think these skills are exclusive to certain skill sets and when you mix it up, you create something new.

WARD SUTTON: You are clearly media savvy and have a rich web presence. How do you see this connecting to the work that you do?

JENNIFER DANIEL: Aw jeeze Ward, I think my newborn twins have gotten more likes then anything else I've made. I just do what the "Social Media For Dummies" book tells me to do. On one hand, the internet has built my career, on the other, images have become merely another type of online social currency. "He is not engaging with his social media appropriately" is a thing I hear more and more with less and less sarcasm.


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When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 9: Emily Flake

When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 9: Emily Flake

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

When Cartoonists Illustrate! There's often a line drawn between cartoonists and illustrators. All this week, I'm profiling talented people known for their cartooning and showing their work in an illustration context.

Emily Flake is a cartoonist, illustrator, writer, and epic procrastinator.

WARD SUTTON: How do you like illustrating compared to cartooning?

EMILY FLAKE: There are challenges and trade-offs associated with each--cartooning requires me to write the story, come up with the jokes, etc, but affords me more latitude in terms of what I want to do; Illustration takes some of the onus of me conceptually but requires that I hew to the subject, which to be fair is a thing I enjoy--I like the act of translating a concept into a visual, it's very satisfying when I hit on a solution that seems elegant. Writing jokes is more frustrating, but the joy when a good joke reveals itself is pretty unparalleled. Either way, my job is writing jokes and drawing pictures, which means I truly cannot complain.


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When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 8: Matt Bors

When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 8: Matt Bors

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

When Cartoonists Illustrate! There's often a line drawn between cartoonists and illustrators. All this week, I'm profiling talented people known for their cartooning and showing their work in an illustration context.

Matt Bors, political cartoonist and editor of The Nib on Medium.com

WARD SUTTON: How do you like illustrating compared to cartooning?

MATT BORS: I enjoy taking a break from having to write out an argument in a political cartoon, spread out with an illustration, and be creative in a different way. Usually the money's better.


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The Flip Side of Andy Rash

The Flip Side of Andy Rash

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

Andy Rash is the award-winning author and illustrator o fthe books Are You a Horse?, Ten Little Zombies: A Love Story, and the soon to be released Archie the Daredevil Penguin. He has also illustrated for lots of magazines and newspapers and created animations for TV. His illustration work typically looks like the image above, left.

But he has also developed a second artistic life with ingenious, low-res-looking characters he calls "iotacons." His iotacon portrait of Mr. Spock is above, right. And here is his iotacon portrait of Louis CK, below.

Andy took some time from his dueling illustration careers to talk about the origins of his new graphic creations.

Andy3.jpgWARD SUTTON: Where did your idea for the iotacons come from?

ANDY RASH: I had an Atari home computer back in the 80s with a program called Moviemaker. You could draw extremely low res images with a joystick and apply very rough animation and backgrounds. I spent hours creating Jabba-eating frogs and Mrs. Bates rocking in her upstairs window. They gave you only four colors to work with. I loved it. Twenty-some years later, I was working in a considerably more powerful graphics program and I zoomed all the way in to see how small I could make a character. The first thing I did was a group of characters from Star Wars. The costumes are so distinct, I didn't have to try very hard with the faces. I had a go-to iotacon face. When I moved on to the Presidents and the Senate, everyone wore pretty much the same thing, so heads got bigger and more specific. I started posting them on the web and got a very positive response, especially when Grant Imahara retweeted my iotacons of the cast of Mythbusters. The word "iotacon," by the way, is a portmanteau of icon and iota, as in, "Not one iota." No one ever asks me that, and I can't tell if the reason is that it's obvious, or that nobody cares.


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When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 7: Lalo Alcaraz

When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 7: Lalo Alcaraz

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

When Cartoonists Illustrate! There's often a line drawn between cartoonists and illustrators. All this week, I'm profiling talented people known for their cartooning and showing their work in an illustration context.

Lalo Alcaraz does the nationally syndicated daily comic strip La Cucaracha and a writer on the upcoming animated Fox TV show Bordertown, but is a cranky editorial cartoonist at heart.

WARD SUTTON: How do you like illustrating compared to cartooning?

LALO ALCARAZ: I like 'em both plenty. I think I approach each in the same way, since my editorial cartoons tend to be blunt and bold, my illustrations end up the same. I think illustration leaves me a bit more freedom to leave questions unanswered.



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When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 6: Tom Tomorrow

When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 6: Tom Tomorrow

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

When Cartoonists Illustrate! There's often a line drawn between cartoonists and illustrators. All this week, I'm profiling talented people known for their cartooning and showing their work in an illustration context.

Tom Tomorrow (Dan Perkins), creator of the weekly syndicated political cartoon This Modern World, is the 2013 winner of the Herblock Prize and a 2015 Society of Illustrators Silver Medal recipient.

WARD SUTTON: How do you like illustrating compared to cartooning?

TOM TOMORROW: I prefer cartooning! The thing that interested me about this art form from a very early age was the interplay between words and pictures. I approach it as a writer, as well as an artist.


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From Newsprint to Museum: Curating Comics

From Newsprint to Museum: Curating Comics

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

In a wonderful moment of synergy here at Grids' Alt Week, the exhibition Alt-Weekly Comics is now up at the Society of Illustrators in NYC. I got the chance to ask curators Warren Bernard and Bill Kartalopoulos about the show they've put together.

Warren Bernard is Executive Director of the Small Press Expo and a comics historian; Bill Kartalopoulos is Series Editor for The Best American Comics.

WARD SUTTON: Together, you've curated the exhibition "Alt-Weekly Comics." What inspired you to focus on the work from alternative weeklies?

WARREN BERNARD: The alt-weekly newspapers published an amazingly wide variety of comics, and it was an incubator to a number of now well-established cartoonists, including Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry and Tom Tomorrow. This show was a combination of celebrating the great comic works of the alt-weekly world, as well as filling a gap in the canon of comics history, which does not give the alt-weekly comics their due.

BILL KARTALOPOULOS: Warren initiated this when he conceived of the alternative weekly newspapers as a theme for SPX: The Small Press Expo in 2014, where guests included Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry, Tom Tomorrow, and several other relevant artists. I've been the programming director for SPX since 2006 and started serving the same role last year for MoCCA in NYC, which is run by the Society of Illustrators. The Society of Illustrators has a long history of organizing exhibits, including year-round comics exhibits in their MoCCA gallery space and a major comics-related exhibit in their main gallery every year timed to coincide with the MoCCA festival in April.

Warren approached Anelle Miller, the executive director of the Society, with the idea of a collaboration between the two organizations, which became this exhibit. Since I work for both events, live in NYC, and have experience curating comics exhibits, it made sense for me to partner with Warren as co-curators on this exhibit. The alt-weekly papers in general are a great subject, and I think highlight a lot of things that have been lost in the transition to digital media, despite all of the obvious gains.
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When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 5: Roz Chast

When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 5: Roz Chast

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

When Cartoonists Illustrate! There's often a line drawn between cartoonists and illustrators. All this week, I'm profiling talented people known for their cartooning and showing their work in an illustration context.

Roz Chast draws cartoons for The New Yorker. Her latest book is Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, a graphic memoir about her parents' final years.

WARD SUTTON: How do you like illustrating compared to cartooning?

ROZ CHAST: I prefer cartooning, but I like humorous illustration.


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When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 4: Benjamin Marra.

When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 4: Benjamin Marra.

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

When Cartoonists Illustrate! There's often a line drawn between cartoonists and illustrators. All this week, I'm profiling talented people known for their cartooning and showing their work in an illustration context.

Benjamin Marra, the underground cartoonist and creator of Night Business, Gangsta Rap Posse and Blades & Lazers. See more of his work at benjaminmarra.com/.

WARD SUTTON: How do you like illustrating compared to cartooning?

BENJAMIN MARRA: Illustration is getting to the essence of a separate story in a single image, rather than having hundreds of images strung together to tell their own story. They operate differently with narrative. Illustration can be enjoyable since I get to experiment a little more by doing things visually I might not when I'm making a comic book. Telling a story in a comic book demands certain things from the drawings to advance the narrative. In illustration you just want to make a single arresting, memorable image. … MORE
From Ward Sutton's Vault:

From Ward Sutton's Vault: "Start Your Own Publication"

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

In 1991, I was living in Minneapolis and working as a cartoonist and kind-of assistant art director for the alt weekly Twin Cities Reader, when I decided to move to Seattle. I arrived with one job interview scheduled and a lot of hope that I could pick up where I left off in Minneapolis.

When I arrived at the offices of the Seattle Weekly, I sat waiting in the lobby for what seemed like a long time as I nervously clutched my portfolio. Abruptly, some lower level member of the art department came out to tell me the art director wasn't going to meet with me. "He said to tell you we don't use cartoons here." That was it.
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Interview with Mad Magazine Art Director Sam Viviano

Interview with Mad Magazine Art Director Sam Viviano

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

After a 22-year career as a freelance illustrator, Sam Viviano became the art director of Mad magazine in 1999. I've had the pleasure and honor of working with Sam for many years, and he was gracious enough to take time to speak with me about his unique career.

WARD SUTTON: You are a man of multiple talents--illustration and art direction. Do you like one better than the other?

SAM VIVIANO: I took on the job of art director for Mad 16 years ago. And they said it wouldn't last! To be honest, I still feel like an impostor. I never pictured myself in this role. I always think of myself as an illustrator and cartoonist.

WARD SUTTON: And you still illustrate--in fact, you recently won an award from the National Cartoonist Society, correct?

SAM VIVIANO: Yes, I won the Magazine Illustration Award for my work in 2008. It was the first thing I'd ever won since high school. Finally, I can call myself an award-winning illustrator! [laughs]

Last year I was named to the MIN Editorial and Design Hall of Fame for my work as art director here at Mad. I've got a nice glass plaque on my desk and the satisfaction of knowing I'm not only an award-winning illustrator but an award-winning art director as well. Now I can die a happy man.

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When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 3: Jen Sorensen

When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 3: Jen Sorensen

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

When Cartoonists Illustrate! There's often a line drawn between cartoonists and illustrators. All this week, I'm profiling talented people known for their cartooning and showing their work in an illustration context.

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist, Comics Editor for Fusion.net's Graphic Culture section, and the winner of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

WARD SUTTON: How do you like illustrating compared to cartooning?

JEN SORENSEN: I usually enjoy it more than drawing my regular cartoon, as there's often a lot more room to play with. With a multi-panel comic, it's always a challenge to cram things into a tiny space as efficiently as possible. Doing illustration work, especially a cover, feels liberating by comparison. It gives me a chance to try out new drawing chops, play around with color, and experiment with Photoshop techniques.

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When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 2: Derf

When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 2: Derf

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

When Cartoonists Illustrate! There's often a line drawn between cartoonists and illustrators. All this week, I'm profiling talented people known for their cartooning and showing their work in an illustration context.

Derf Backderf, writer-artist of the international bestselling graphic novels My Friend Dahmer, Punk Rock & Trailer Parks, and Trashed, has been making comix for a long, long time and has won a buncha awards for it. See more at http://www.derfcity.com/. (All illustrations in this story are by Derf.)

SPD: How do you like illustrating compared to cartooning?

Derf: Oh, there's no comparison. Illustration can be fun, but, at most, you're just re-interpreting, or maybe enhancing, the idea of someone else. When I make a graphic novel, that's an entire self-contained world that's completely my vision. Every word, every line, every shade. I really dig
that. That's not meant as a put-down of illustration gigs. That's just my personal preference and what satisfies me creatively.


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An Interview with Art Director Art Chantry:

An Interview with Art Director Art Chantry: "Stop Faking Design"

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

Art Chantry's work can be seen on telephone poles, art museums, and everywhere in between. Based in Seattle and Tacoma, he has created hundreds, or likely thousands of band posters, LP and CD covers, and designs for magazines, newspapers, and zines. One could argue his visual style had as much to do with the Northwest music movement of the 80s and 90s as the music itself. As art director of The Rocket (a publication that chronicled the music scene of that era), Art gave me my first break when I moved to Seattle in 1991. I recently got the chance to ask him about his approach to art directing publications, his inspirations, and what magazine he would redesign if he could.

WARD SUTTON: To my eye, your design work on The Rocket seemed like one bold experiment after another. I especially remember a series of issues where you rotated the logo on the cover a little bit more each issue, with the logo eventually appearing vertical, upside-down, etc. How do you reflect on your approach to designing The Rocket?

ART CHANTRY: The Rocket was such a chaotic "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" affair that every layout and every decision WAS a bold experiment. We had no money, no budget, no technology, no nothing except the ambitions and imaginations of the people who slammed it together every month. As art director, i would desperately try to get things planned in advance--particularly when it came to hiring freelancers, who were always  working on the core of every issue. We would have been lost without them. Every freelance illustrator/photographer/designer/etc. I solicited brought their own eye and their own opinion to each project. The only way we could get these people to work for nothing (we paid them so little it was a mere token of appreciation and little else) was to offer them the freedom to invent and create. That alone made  a certain level of chance and chaos to each issue that it virtually became the trademark style of the magazine--no matter how hard I tried to prevent it.


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When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 1: Kate Beaton

When Cartoonists Illustrate! Part 1: Kate Beaton

SUTTONSIGNER.jpgBy Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

When Cartoonists Illustrate! There's often a line drawn between cartoonists and illustrators. All this week, I'm profiling talented people known for their cartooning and showing their work in an illustration context.

Kate Beaton is the creator of the comic strip Hark! A Vagrant, a mix of history, literature and pop culture parody. Read her comics at http://www.harkavagrant.com/. (All illustrations in this story are by Kate Beaton.)

SPD: How do you like illustrating compared to cartooning?

Kate Beaton: Cartooning is more natural to me, but illustration, if I make something I like, is maybe more satisfying. There's a more elegant permanence to it, while my cartooning looks rather off-the-cuff.


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This Week's Guest Editor: Cartoonist/Illustrator Ward Sutton

This Week's Guest Editor: Cartoonist/Illustrator Ward Sutton

SUTTONSIGNER.jpg[A note from the SPD Grids Editors: This is the sixth in our ongoing series of Guest Editors on the Society of Publication Designers website. Ward Sutton is a cartoonist, illustrator, writer, and visual provocateur. As a graphic storyteller supreme he uses his cartoons, comics, and illustrations to highlight the worlds of popular culture, rock 'n' roll, personal relationships, politics, and much more. In his ongoing series of comics in The Boston Globe, Ward continues to produce sharp, smart (and funny) visual political commentary of the highest order. His graphic illustrations and designs have been featured on posters for everything from Radiohead to John Leguizamo's Freak.

Ward was the creator of the popular Sutton Impact comic strip which ran for many years in The Village Voice and other altweekly newspapers. He's been a longtime friend of SPD, and we're very happy to have him joining us on the site all this week. Stay tuned for some amazing insight into cartooning and illustration. You can follow Ward on Twitter @WardSutton.]


By Ward Sutton
SuttonImpactStudio.com

Those of a certain age may recall the recurring gag on Late Nite With David Letterman about the "Actor-Singer." (If not, this may jog your memory.) The joke here was that in the showbiz world, these people treaded the line between being multi-talented and desperate to do anything.

The same might be thought, at various times, of the Cartoonist-Illustrators of the world, of which I am proudly one. I certainly remember the desperate phases of the early years--drawing for beer, terrible vegan co-op food, or maybe a concert ticket.

But there are actually more than just the two worlds of cartooning and illustration: there are editorial cartoonists, alternative editorial cartoonists, comic book artists, alternative comic book artists, daily comic strip artists, weekly alternative comic strip artists, gag cartoonists ... and the list of sub-categories goes on and on.


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Learning to Read Online

Learning to Read Online

LESLIE.jpgBy Jeremy Leslie
magCulture.com

I remember the first time I hooked up a 56bit modem to the phone jack and wondered at the digital type that appeared on my Apple Classic screen. Yes it was amazing, eerie even, seeing content-- newsgroup lists--dropping onto the screen as the modem whined away. But what did this mean for editorial design?

Since then--the early nineties, in case you weren't there--lots has happened but people are still asking the same question. It's only in the last few years that we've begun to get anywhere near an answer (or answers). There were the Flash years--I worked on an exciting but almost unworkable digital magazine for mobile network Orange in the UK that relied on Flash animation--and then the PDF page-turner years. The iPad briefly promised the earth, and though it's established a role for some projects hasn't lived up to the hype.

Just a couple of years ago I remember despairing at the thought content would be consumed on phones. How could we designers possibly create identity within such limited space? But now at last we are seeing progress as screen resolutions improve and mobile reading take off. Responsive web design and web fonts have combined to open the floodgates; long-form writing can be designed to work well on the desktop and tablet and adapt to smaller mobile screens.
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Kickstarter Support

Kickstarter Support

LESLIE.jpgBy Jeremy Leslie
magCulture.com

However ambitious and confident you are about launching your own magazine, the issue of finance remains the hardest subject about which to find definitive answers. But this doesn't seem to dampen people's enthusiasm, they continue to launch small-run independent titles, and online crowdsourcing, in particular Kickstarter, has been a boost to people doing so. So last year I gave it a go.

Blogger Katie Treggiden made a name for herself covering the international design fairs on her Confessions of a Design Geek website. These biannual expositions show off new furniture and product designs from both established and new designers; Treggiden's blog focuses on the new designers. When we met to discuss her hopes of publishing a print magazine we found we had much in common and decided to launch the title--to be called Fiera--as a joint venture. Two bloggers coming together to make a magazine seemed a neat story, and I was intrigued to give Kickstarter a go.

I divide the Kickstarter experience into two distinct parts; the first part was planning the fundraising, a process that mirrored that of planning a magazine. By the time you've devised the editorial strategy you've got the structure for your campaign: what will the mag be about, who will read it, how will you cover particular interests and concerns. You can make the various rewards levels as complex as you wish but we decided to keep it simple, effectively making the fundraising a pre-ordering service--the base level reward was a copy of the magazine.
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Client Magazines

Client Magazines

LESLIE.jpgBy Jeremy Leslie
magCulture.com

Content marketing is the buzz word of our age, a generic term covering many types of publishing project, from small to large across print and digital, that promotes a brand or organisation. I spent the noughties as creative director of the UK's then leading specialist in the form, and saw the industry--then known as custom publishing--grow exponentially. I also saw it slow down and become normalised, the rough edges knocked off and the creative decisions based more on appeasing clients than reaching out to readers.

So it's been cheering to see a new group of publishers recently move into collaborating with clients on magazine projects. Most have proved their credentials by producing their own publications, so adding a client project is a relatively simple extension. And although only one issue old, The Happy Reader is my favourite current example of the form.

I hope most readers will already be aware of Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman, the pair of biannual magazines published in English by Dutch editorial heroes Jop van Bennekom (art direction) and Gert Jonkers (edit). Both magazines have cut through the conservative worlds of men's and women's fashion coverage to create a new editorial language that is a highly contemporary mix of irony and seriousness. They are highly sophisticated editorial vehicles that owe much to the pair's earlier abstract experiments in publishing.
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Digital Discovers Print

Digital Discovers Print

LESLIE.jpgBy Jeremy Leslie
magCulture.com

It's long been argued that print and digital should work alongside one another to get the most out of both forms, but generally this has been read as print adding digital to its existing channels.

Recently though we've seen multiple examples of digital publications and brands launching print publications for the first time. These have ranged from bloggers and web publishers extending their voice into magazines to digital businesses adding a printed publication to their marketing efforts.

The most intriguing example of the former is The Pitchfork Review, launched by the team behind the website Pitchfork. Launched 19 years ago, the site has developed from covering indie rock to a broader palette of music coverage that attracts a huge daily readership. In doing so it has had the similar effect on music magazines as the MP3 had on record sales. Although not the only reason for the decline of the traditional music mag, Pitchfork has surely played its part in their demise.
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The Maturing Independents

The Maturing Independents

LESLIE.jpgBy Jeremy Leslie
magCulture.com

All the magazines I'm featuring this week are from the self-published independent sector, an area of seemingly boundless energy and growth. Such enthusiasm goes a long way but can't cover up the fact that not every indie mag is a winner. As with any endeavour there's a natural balance of success and failure, and as the independent market grows there's the disappointing spectacle of new clichés entering the visual language of editorial design.

But there are always leaders, and if the more established independent magazines like Fantastic Man, 032c and Apartamento have had it all their way for some time, it's great to see newer magazines reaching a higher level of maturity. And The Gourmand epitomises this new standard.

Right from its 2012 launch this London-based food and culture journal sought to reflect its name, gourmand meaning someone who takes great pleasure in food. The magazine celebrates the enjoyment of food and editors-in-chief David Lane and Marina Tweed reflect this in their evident enjoyment of making a beautifully produced magazine.
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This Week: Guest Editor Jeremy Leslie of magCulture

This Week: Guest Editor Jeremy Leslie of magCulture

LESLIE.jpg[A note for the SPD Grids Editors: The is the fifth in our ongoing series of Guest Editors on the Society of Publication Designers website. Jeremy Leslie is a designer, writer and curator. His London-based magCulture studio specializes in editorial design, with recent projects including the launch of design magazine Fiera, the redesign of wine magazine Noble Rot and the design direction of progressive publishing website Aeon. He is also creative director at Luxembourg's Maison Moderne.

His latest book on editorial design
The Modern Magazine was published in 2013, and the magCulture blog is a key source of editorial design opinion and news. He was co-chair of the 2012 SPD Awards, and co-hosted the awards dinner, aka the night Richard Turley dressed as a hotdog. You can follow Jeremy and magCulture on Twitter @magCulture. Many thanks to Jeremy for joining us on the site this week!]

By Jeremy Leslie
magCulture.com

Happy 50th birthday SPD! It's a pleasure to be guest-editing the site this week, I'm looking forward to moving out of the familiar surroundings of the magCulture site and posting in a new environment.

To provide some structure to the week I'll be asking "Where do magazines come from?" This question arises because few if any of the big publishers are launching new magazines at present. Yet we receive several new magazines each week at magCulture.

I've identified five common sources for these new publications and will share one of these each day. There'll be plenty of images, some succinct text and plenty of links for you to discover more. I hope you'll see some things you've not seen before and that you'll end the week as excited and intrigued by the magazines as I am.

Resources:
magCulture.com
magCulture on Twitter: @magculture

"An Extraordinary Collision Between P.G. Wodehouse and Spinal Tap"

NEWCOWLESSIGNER.jpgBy Andy Cowles
andycowles.com

This is my last post of the week; it's been great fun and I hope you've enjoyed it, so if you'll indulge me, here's a story about some of my own Back Pages.

In the late 80's and early 90's Q Magazine was the biggest music magazine in the UK. It's success led directly to the launch of Mojo, still going strong, but Q is now sadly a shadow of its' former self. It fell victim to changing habits as well a lack of focus on the reader and their aspirations.

But at launch, if tone is everything, then Q Magazine had it all. Created to give the regular Englishman an alternative to the tribal rock press of the day, it became a publishing phenomenon within its first year. Bitingly funny, beautifully written and with a presentation to match, the brand gave English readers in particular a sense of identity that few contemporary music magazines have equaled. It won innumerable awards, sold by the bucketload and made the careers of many of its contributors.

I drew the Q, designed the first 29 issues, and over the next 10 years designed 30-odd more covers along with several major redesigns.

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Is Your Content Going Down the Toilet? Here Are Three Things You Can Do About It

Is Your Content Going Down the Toilet? Here Are Three Things You Can Do About It

NEWCOWLESSIGNER.jpgBy Andy Cowles
andycowles.com

Crap. That's the word that begins content marketing agency Velocity's slideshare, now downloaded over half a million times. Their argument is that so much content is now being produced by marketers, social media agencies, production companies and PR's that it's inevitable we're all going to drown in a flood of content that's just plain rubbish. (Brilliantly skewered by Clickhole, logo above.)

It's a good looking dek, but at the end, when I was expecting there to be an antidote to this tide of garbage swilling around my ankles, I discovered that their answer was... "Raise your game."

So what does this platitude actually mean? It's an important question, because unless we work it out, trust in journalism, publishing and the brands we serve will just melt away. And without trust we have nothing.

Storytelling may be the basis of human experience, but it means diddly-squit if the source is untrustworthy.

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How Media Brands Explain Who We Are, and More Importantly, Who We Want to Be

How Media Brands Explain Who We Are, and More Importantly, Who We Want to Be

NEWCOWLESSIGNER.jpgBy Andy Cowles
andycowles.com

Last weekend I witnessed a couple of friends in London discussing the nature of their relationship by which shelter title they preferred. For the record, Richard was Elle Deco, Annie was Living Etc. Whatever you may think, both these brands are so well drawn that readers can use them as a shorthand to express deep seated feelings that otherwise might take weeks to uncover.

This exchange goes to the heart of the modern media conundrum. More so than ever before, the content is nothing compared to the point of view that surrounds it. Values, beliefs and tone of voice are the things that a reader values, and is prepared to pay for.

Living Etc and Elle Deco's content is different, but only by degree. Many of the houses and ideas in one title could appear in the other, the key is the code used to present them.


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How Do You Compete With a Billion Dollar Logo?

How Do You Compete With a Billion Dollar Logo?

NEWCOWLESSIGNER.jpgBy Andy Cowles
andycowles.com

Buzzfeed
is now considered one of the world's most innovative news organizations. It's value is currently over $1b, getting close to the likes of The New York Times ($1.28b), and dwarfing other digital news sites. So it's no surprise that more start-ups want a slice of the pie.

American news site Vox is early out of the blocks, launched just three months after founder Ezra Klein left the Washington Post. He claims that Vox will "Explain the world" but the site is already creating a stir, as evidenced by this rant from a senior Facebook executive complaining that "Someone should fix this shit."

He was referring to Vox's story about how you should "Wash your jeans instead of freezing them," with the complaint was that they were not delivering  "A new home for serious journalism in a format that felt Internet-native."

When it comes to content, you have to make your intentions very clear. Which is why design is central to a users understanding of what to expect. Can Vox persuade readers that it's a real heavyweight political commentator? Can Buzzfeed change horses midstream and let us believe that they too should be taken seriously?

In short, what does the design of these two sites say about trust?


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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.


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Type Size Is Your Friend

Type Size Is Your Friend

NEWCOWLESSIGNER.jpgBy Andy Cowles
andycowles.com

Most people never read more than 25% of even their favourite magazine. However, many editors are totally blind to this fact, insisting on getting every single word of their deathless prose wedged into the page. Invoking higher authority, this often produces nothing more than a sophisticated internal memo that no one will ever read.

As designers, we're culpable in this, as it's we who set the size of the type in the first place. Not only that, many designers seem to think that readers have 20/20 vision, and are perfectly willing to read large tracts of text across super wide columns in sizes that would strain the eyesight of fighter pilots.

Among many other reasons, this is a reason why I love The New Yorker so much.  Their text is beautifully set, 10/12, I believe, across the correct measure and with perfect kerning.

(Image courtesy Streets of Salem)



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Insanely Beautiful

Insanely Beautiful

NEWCOWLESSIGNER.jpgBy Andy Cowles
andycowles.com

Whilst on vacation in NYC this summer I met with Time Out's sparkling new editor Terri White and her top notch new art director Chris Deacon. And like many media expats before we gathered at the Ear Inn on Spring Street to drink Mexican beer and gossip about our friends in the media.

Which was all great fun, but for a while we were sorely distracted by a copy of The Wall Street Journal's magazine, WSJ., which I had been "loaned" earlier that day by Christos Hannides, the Creative Director of Ink Global Media's Rhapsody and Hemispheres.

Dear God what a beautiful magazine this is. Page after page of effortless class. Amazing photography, perfectly judged layout, and top-notch writing. It's completely old school, large format, black and white images to the fore, resolutely not glossy. The WSJ. creative team includes Magnus Berger, creative director; Pierre Tardif, design director; and Jennifer Pastore, photography director.

You've got great taste Christos. And you're not getting it back.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Related Stories:

OH NO! Who's Taken Our Car?
"Elitist, Narrow-minded, and With An Aesthetic Corridor No Wider Than My Middle Finger"
Possibly the Best Airline Magazine in the World
Possibly the Best Airline Magazine in the World

Possibly the Best Airline Magazine in the World

NEWCOWLESSIGNER.jpgBy Andy Cowles
andycowles.com

I'm currently consulting with Ink Global Media, the world's largest publisher of airline magazines. My own projects for them are still in the mixer, but we'll do well to get halfway close to N, the magazine Ink produces for the smart, increasingly global carrier Norwegian Airlines.

N was narrowly robbed of the UK's top publishing award this year, coming second to Slimming World at the PPA Award for Customer Magazine of the Year although it did win Launch of the Year in the BSMEs (British Society of Magazine Editors Awards) in 2013. But such is the consistency of quality; I can't see it being overlooked in 2015.

N-stinking fish-thumb-550x690-22365.jpg

Art director Rickard Westin has built a modern, easy-to-read but visually distinctive template that carries some pretty powerful journalism. Together with editor Toby Skinner and deputy editor Mandy Keighran they've published a ton of world-class covers, along with a bunch of smart, clever ideas.
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"Elitist, Narrow-minded, And With An Aesthetic Corridor No Wider Than My Middle Finger"

NEWCOWLESSIGNER.jpgBy Andy Cowles
andycowles.com

These were my considered reasons for not joining the Society of Publication Designers when I first moved to New York. Clearly this was the mindset of a post-punk tabloid-esque European Idiot; when I finally joined a year later I discovered just what a fine resource the SPD really is.

Apart from the world-class work skillfully documented in the SPD annuals, the biggest gift is the community of like-minded souls. It sounds cheesy, but to an Englishman this is another representation of America at its best. The industry here is big enough and inclusive enough to make a group like this work, with it apparently running on nothing more than pure passion, iron resolve and an acceptable level of self-interest.

Editorial design has changed. In fact it's changed so far and so fast that none of us really know what we're meant to be doing anymore. Are we now selling ads, managing reader feedback, incorporating native, generating commercial content, or just becoming the primary brand champion?

(Image via Jim Marshall Photography)

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OH NO! Who's Taken Our Car?

OH NO! Who's Taken Our Car?

NEWCOWLESSIGNER.jpg[A note from the SPD Grids Editors: This is the fourth in our ongoing series of Guest Editors on the Society of Publication Designers website. Andy Cowles is a creative director (Mademoiselle, Rolling Stone) and media consultant with an active blog and social media presence. His writings appear regularly in a variety of venues, and he's been a prominent voice in articulating the current state and future direction of magazine making. Andy will be driving the SPD car all this week, providing his tasty take on magazine design, art directors, content creation, reader engagement, and much more. But be careful! He tends to drive on the wrong side of the road... Many thanks to Andy for his hard work and generous contribution to the SPD site all this week!]

By Andy Cowles
andycowles.com

My name is Andy Cowles, I'm an independent content consultant based in London. Currently consultant creative director for Ink Global; previous full time roles include Editorial Development Director for Time Inc. UK, Creative Director of Mademoiselle for Condé Nast, and Art Director of Rolling Stone for Jann Wenner.

Thanks SPD, for giving me the keys to the blog for the next five days. I intend to drive it like I stole it...

(Image courtesy of Braunstonetown Parish Council).

Presidents: A Lifelong Obsession Has Blossomed into a Long-Term Dream Project

Presidents: A Lifelong Obsession Has Blossomed into a Long-Term Dream Project

BRODNERSIGNER4.jpgBy Steve Brodner

Presidents is a book due out in 2018 from Nation Books on administrations that have been key to understanding the America we know. History can be thought of as a huge animal connected to the small tail we see as "news." To know the latter without a former is to know too little. So I have been reading and absorbing a good deal of history this year. These are some observations I have made so far, along with some early pieces done for the book. It is very important to mention: I am not a historian. This shouldn't, however, prevent one from treading carefully upon historical observation. But, of course, it is very helpful to have historians you can talk to. So that's what I am doing. And reading their work.

One thing I have discovered: these are all complicated people. No villain has not done something commendable. No great president is without his lapses. 

Wilson.jpgWOODROW WILSON was, for example, a walking contradiction: a great liberal from the South, the epitome of the great Progressive movement, getting a head-spinning amount done in his first term.
.

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Considering the Nose: Seven Top Portrait Artists Contemplate that Face You Got

Considering the Nose: Seven Top Portrait Artists Contemplate that Face You Got

BRODNERSIGNER3.jpgBy Steve Brodner

I took part in an experiment at Johns Hopkins University last spring where I lay in an MRI while drawing on a small pad. The researchers were trying to unlock the secrets of what happens in your brain when you draw a portrait.  I have spent a lifetime drawing people, occasionally wondering about that same thing. Of course you don't have to know. It's like riding a bike. You just do it a lot and then you get better. But it is still very mysterious and I think I would be hard pressed to tell an interviewer exactly how or why I do it. So I decided to torture my friends with these questions instead. Edward Sorel, John Cuneo, Anita Kunz, Jason Seiler, Joe Ciardiello, Victor Juhasz and Burt Silverman were not only equal to the task but came up with far superior answers to my questions, which proves that people would know that artists are intellectuals if only they talked to them. Each one had fascinating things to say, which makes me look like a hell of an interviewer. My tough job was to make up these questions and then smile as this evolved into a wonderfully illuminating exchange by some of my favorite artists working today.

(Above: Illustration by Edward Sorel)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What is your first conscious or unconscious act in sizing up a face as you begin a project?

Ed Sorel photo.jpgEdward Sorel: Since we work from photos rather than from the person, the first question is, "Does this photo look like the person?" If it doesn't, you either need another photo or, if you like the expression, get other pictures from other angles--profiles are helpful. Then you exaggerate the feature that is at variance with the ancient Greek ideal of the face.

Burt Bio .jpgBurt Silverman: 
I simply think about setting up a light and dark structure to best make the face a sculptural image and then to let the process of constructing it go forward. Inescapably that begins to inform the art of what I feel about that face or person...It's a coincidental process, each reinforcing the other.

JoeC.jpgJoe Ciardiello: Once I subdue the anxiety of whether I can pull this off, I immediately go to the web and search for as many decent quality pics of that person I can find (how did we ever survive before Google images?). Then it's a matter of studying the face and features...how close together are the eyes, what's the shape of the head, the size of the nose, etc....all with the hope that a somewhat interesting drawing can be made. Then comes much procrastination before actually putting pen to paper.

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Illustration as Authorship: When the Story Starts With You

Illustration as Authorship: When the Story Starts With You

BRODNERSIGNER2.jpgBy Steve Brodner

My (40 year) freelance career has always been a combination of commissions coming from media and my own pitches for stories going out to them. Coming up with ideas and being lucky to find great designers to collaborate with has made my career more vivid and exciting. It also gives me levels of control I would never otherwise have. When ideas come (and I always have a few floating around) I am grateful for the open door at places I respect. Here is a sampling of projects I've written, drawn and sold over the years.

Note: Although these stories originated with me, they were all collaborations on a very intense level. My great thanks to all the creative directors, designers, writers and editors who sharpened, clarified and focused these projects. You have helped make my life in art and journalism possible.

(Pictured top): In 1984 I proposed my first story to a magazine. I wanted to travel through the Midwest and interview farmers who were being thrown off of their land by Reagan administration farm policies. It was a priority of the Farmers Home Management Agency to turn large parts of farmland over to multinational agribusinesses. I interviewed some 30 farmers for The Progressive. I dove deeply into the process of telling personal stories in words and pictures. This happened with the great support from Patrick J.B. Flynn, art director of The Progressive.

Jessie Jackson-thumb-550x316-22021.jpgOver the years I have covered 10 national political conventions. All were stories proposed by me. One of these was of the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta, for Esquire magazine, Rip Georges, art director. In this piece the delegates are listening to Jesse Jackson's stirring "Patchwork Quilt" speech. These people, many of them not actually seated in this arrangement, were composed to reflect the electricity in that hall. Documentary art, I feel, has license to alter a scene to better tell the truth.




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POW! Which Artwork Landed the Strongest Punch Ever?

POW! Which Artwork Landed the Strongest Punch Ever?

BRODNERSIGNER.jpgBy Steve Brodner
We asked some of America's most powerful artists which pieces got THEIR blood up the most.

In our choice of going light or strong with graphic commentary in media, quite often the pull is toward stepping lightly and letting the text carry the heavy artillery. Editors and advertisers often prefer the punch to be hidden in the text, leaving the page design, for the sake of keeping the mercantile party polite, to just hint at the force of the subject matter.

The artists below (Edel Rodriguez, Brian Stauffer, Frances Jetter, Mirko Ilic and Peter Kuper) remind us that there are times when the jugular is the preferred target. The gravity of a story can be brilliantly reflected in art that pulls out all stops. I have asked these artists, who are masters of the art of blending graphic beauty with topical awareness and moral conviction to join me in picking a few pieces by THEIR favorite artists who have given them some of their greatest inspiration. And they also selected one of their own pieces.



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2016 Election: The Clown Taxi and the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman

2016 Election: The Clown Taxi and the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman

BRODNERSIGNER.jpgBy Steve Brodner
The 2014 mid-term elections bring the sudden and discomfiting realization that the 2016 presidential campaign is kicking off. And before we get ready to inaugurate Hillary, it would be good to think about both parties, who the leading players are, and what they may portend for the election and the country.
 
Drawing portraits and caricatures of politicians forces one to look especially hard the elements of the faces and allow them to fall into shapes that connect with what you know about the person. The result is a blending; the face becomes a shorthand symbol for the creature itself.

Here, somehow connecting with all that, is my take on the 2016 morning line and what these faces "mean" to me and portend for the long campaign to come..
 
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(Newsweek, 2009. Art director: Amid Capeci.)

HILLARY CLINTON is pretty easy to draw. Start with a round face. As she has gotten older those edges have rounded off, which is true both in her face and her public persona.


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This Week's SPD Guest Editor: Steve Brodner

This Week's SPD Guest Editor: Steve Brodner

BRODNERSIGNER.jpg[A note from the SPD Grids Editors: This is the third in our ongoing series of Guest Editors. Steve Brodner is an illustrator, artist, journalist, teacher, and all-around graphic provocateur who has been responsible for some of the most memorable publication imagery of the past 30 years. His work has been collected in the book Freedom Fries: The Political Art of Steve Brodner, published by Fantagraphics. Steve will be sharing his work and selections from some of his favorite illustrators, along with some very smart graphic and political commentary during the coming week. Consider this a healthy antidote to last week's election results! Many thanks to Steve for his generous and enthusiastic contribution to the SPD site.]

By Steve Brodner
There is nothing wrong with your computer. It's just SPD taking temporary leave of its good common sense and giving the guest editor keys for the next week to me. I've been an artist/journalist in media since the president was an unpopular, brooding, dispirited, secretive bomber of people overseas. No, not him, I mean Nixon. Since then I've gone from drawing editorial cartoons for daily newspapers to rendering political and cultural stories for top magazines and websites.

 

Nixon Obama replacement.jpgThis journey has included many stories reported, written and illustrated on such topics as the Clinton impeachment, guns in Philadelphia and what it's like to climb Mount Fuji. I've also dabbled in video at great expense to The New Yorker, PBS and Slate. All the while I have been amazed and grateful at how a visual artist can arrange (through great luck and lots of sweat) to join the national conversation on the questions, great and small, of our time.




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The Reader Comes First

The Reader Comes First

POST_ICON_BENSON.jpgBy Robin Benson / Editor, Past Print
The spreads below are from publications that I think were designed with the reader in mind. I've seen too many pages where it's clear that the words and images have been handled in a bland and uninspiring way which doesn't pull the reader into the story. Open any magazine and it's the images the reader looks at first, photos, art or graphics, then the headline and intro. If these elements work the reader starts on the text.
      Look at these spreads and see how the ingredients work; in the case of Writer's Digest there isn't even color. They all show clean, unfussy typography, partly because (apart from the Radio Times) they were all produced pre-PC, where design changes were more complex than just keystroking and looking at the changes on a monitor.

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twen: Big, Bold and Very Black (and White)

twen: Big, Bold and Very Black (and White)

POST_ICON_BENSON.jpgBy Robin Benson / Editor, Past Print
twen was a unique German magazine aimed at young adults. Started in 1959 as a bi-monthly, its success turned it into a monthly by September 1961. It was unique because of its Art Director/Editor Willy Fleckhaus, who created a magazine like no other.  I first came across it with issue nine while I was studying design and typography and collected nearly all the issues until the end in 1971. twen demanded attention with its large size and spreads almost 21- inches wide by 13-deep (about the same size as past American consumer titles Life or Look).
      In the early years twen was basically a mono title with some spot color, though the cover always had a color photo of a pretty female on a black surround. Color was slowly introduced, especially as a fold-out spread in each issue with a dramatic color photo on both sides. I used to put them up on my bedroom wall until I made a frame to drop in each month's pull-out.
      Fleckhaus used a six-column page grid ,although I never saw a complete page of text in this format. Long articles were usually four-column. The 12 columns across a spread meant he could tightly crop, enlarge and bleed a photo except for the last narrow column which would have some text and a headline, a letter or number. Black might have been Fleckhaus's favorite color, because spread after spread had large amounts of dark areas either of photos or black panels with a photo dropped into them. The middle editorial pages always had a sort of bleached-out feel with dark photos and empty white page space, but always working beautifully as they pulled you into the page's content.
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The Best Designed Magazine I Ever Saw

The Best Designed Magazine I Ever Saw

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By Robin Benson / Editor, Past Print
What's the best designed magazine you ever saw? Oh, that's easy you might say. OK, a few clarifications. I don't mean a title that has several knock-out spreads in the middle but one that works for the reader (that's who you do it for after all) from the cover to the last page. One that has a contents page that spells out the goodies on offer, and maybe a reader could find something immediately and turn to that page
    A magazine that has thought about the editorial design on those half pages front and back that have ads next to them, chosen a typeface with a readable point size for the text, and a display face that puts across the message easily, and combined with photos and graphics pulls the reader into a spread. A magazine where the design creates a natural flow to the editorial and all those typographic reader aids--bylines, intros, pull quotes, sidebars, captions, page numbers--have been well chosen and work. A design that isn't noticeable by the reader because all the elements blend together issue after issue so that the words and images are the only things that stand out.
    I expect your list is a bit shorter now but there are magazines, past and present, that are beautifully designed. The best one I ever saw was Quality, published by Time Inc. in 1987. The Editor was Landon Jones; the Assistant Managing Editor and art director of magazine development at Time Inc. was Mary K. Baumann; Nora Sheehan was the Art Director, and Michele McNally (now photography director at The New York Times) was the Picture Editor. Sheehan recently told me that the magazine was produced by an in-house magazine group at Time Inc. and the first issue, of about 100,000 copies, was mailed to a select upmarket readership. Everyone at Time Inc. liked it but the subscription returns probably weren't enough to justify its continuance.
    Below is the first (and only) issue, dated Winter 1987. I thought it worked from the cover onwards.
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Otto Storch: The Man Who Made Pictures Out of Type

Otto Storch: The Man Who Made Pictures Out of Type

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By Robin Benson / Editor, Past Print
Why was a male design student buying every issue of a leading woman's magazine in the late Fifties? To see what Otto Storch, Art Director of McCall's, was up to each month. He directed design at the magazine for 14 years starting in 1955, and was one of a group of designers loosely called the The New York School who created a visual buzz in print design during the 50s and 60s.
      Storch, to me though, was someone special. I always had an interest in typography and magazines and his work combined both beautifully (helped, incidentally, by a totally supportive Herbert Mayes, the Editor of McCall's). Combining images and type on the page seemed to me the best way of communicating the essence of the message to the reader, rather than have them as separate elements on a spread, which was so typical of consumer magazines back then.
      The integrated typography in McCall's pages seemed so effortless and the central well of editorial pages could feature spreads of fashion, food, celebrity, fiction and topical lifestyle themes with some just using type as the dominant graphic. Worth mentioning, I think, that some of the spreads had an almost negligible budget which released money for ambitious fashion or food features over several pages.
    
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This Week's SPD Guest Editor: Robin Benson

POST_ICON_BENSON.jpg[A note from the SPD Grids Editors: This is the second in our ongoing series of Guest Editors. Robin Benson is a longtime UK magazine art director who edits and produces the Past Print blog, which features rich collections of magazine covers and pages from the 1950s-80s. Robin will be sharing treasures from his collection along with smart commentary during the coming week. We're very happy and grateful to have his generous contributions to the SPD site.]

By Robin Benson / Editor, Past Print
The SPD have graciously let me guest edit the site for the next five days. My training as a longtime magazine designer was basically learned on the job. I'm from the lead type era when a type-scale and line-counter were extensions of every designer's hands. I got my first publication job way back in 1961 for a company producing house journals. My first Art Editor job was in 1969 on the Illustrated London News and I stayed as an AD (with a few ups and downs) on several titles until I took early retirement in the mid-90s. 
      I've always had a passion for publications and in particular typography. While studying at the London College of Printing I bought, with a friend, an old Albion proofing press (Google it) with print area of about 15 by 12 inches. Second-hand wood-type alphabets were dirt cheap and we stocked up on a lot them and bought some lead type (including Monotype Grotesk 215 and 216 and a font of 24point Standard Medium). We never used all this to make any money; we just liked messing around with a composing stick and type with the downside that it had to be put back in type case.
      The publication bug really got me as I started to collect magazines (plus any other print that looked pretty cool). Fortunately I saved plenty of this and in 2011 started my Past Print blog, where twen, Quality, McCall's and many other magazines are available for you to look at. I'm going to share these with you for the next five days, plus my thoughts on magazine design and art direction.


 

So, what makes a great Monocle cover?

So, what makes a great Monocle cover?

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News broke earlier this week that Monocle founder Tyler Brule had sold a minority share of the company, valuing the brand at a whopping $115 million. Amaze!

We look back at Monocle's first seven years in the new issue of Gym Class. In the feature, creative director Richard Spencer Powell discusses the workload, his favorite magazines, working with editor Andrew Tuck, and he reveals his favorite Monocle covers (so far).


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Another ace cover from Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia

Another ace cover from Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia

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Here's a pretty amazing fact: American photographer Steven Meisel has photographed every Vogue Italia front cover since 1988. Yup, EVERY cover. Since 1988. Pretty amaze, right? Some of you reading will not have been born in 1988. Know mag history, peeps. And respect where respect is due... that's all we're saying.

Oh, and make sure you track down the September issue of Vogue Italia. They aced their cover this year! It's a mega-gatefold extravaganza featuring 50 models! #50thAnniversaryIssue

Click below to see enlarged version of the cover
VogueItaliaSept2014.jpg

The Fantastic Men Behind Fantastic Man

The Fantastic Men Behind Fantastic Man

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Ok, act cool. Don't embarrass yourself. Play it cool. Oh... doh. Too late, we're serious fanboys for Fantastic Man and the two fantastic men (sorry, couldn't help ourselves) who make it, co-founders Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom. The new issue of Fantastic Man (the magazine's 20th issue!) has just dropped in London (and will do so very soon everywhere else), so what better time to catch up with Gert and ask a few questions about what makes a great Fantastic Man cover. Oh, and would they ever put a women on the cover? The answer is below.
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A chat with The Gentlewoman's EIC Penny Martin

A chat with The Gentlewoman's EIC Penny Martin

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Indie women's magazine The Gentlewoman is a fave here at Gym Class HQ. What's not to love? We had the good fortune to chat with editor-in-chief Penny Martin for our sixth issue (way back when). We thought it about time we touched base with Penny just as the tenth issue of The Gentlewoman drops (with Swedish musician Robyn on the cover, FYI). Over to you, Penny.
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Little White Lies.  A magazine for movie lovers who love magazines

Little White Lies. A magazine for movie lovers who love magazines

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Who doesn't enjoy a great film? We love 'em. And we're not talking dodgy, low-quality streaming. Rather, we're all about heading to our local cinema, grapping a tub of Ben & Jerry's, a Coke the size of a European car, and sitting back for some cinematic magic.

And how do we choose which flicks to see? Simple, we read British indie film magazine Little White Lies.

We spoke with Little White Lies creative director Timba Smits about what makes a great Little White Lies cover. Read on, magazine lovers.
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Are you familiar with ZEIT Magazin?  You should be.

Are you familiar with ZEIT Magazin? You should be.

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Are you familiar with ZEIT Magazin? It's the weekly magazine of German newspaper Die Zeit (translates to The Times in English) and is a regular fixture over on Coverjunkie (each issue features two covers).
They also publish a twice-yearly English language best-of edition, available widely in London and New York.
Berlin-based journalist Kati Krause spoke with ZEIT Magazin's editor Christoph Amend and art director Katja Kollmann for the new issue of Gym Class. Here's an extract from their conversation.
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Indie favorite Cereal magazine hits the newsstands

Indie favorite Cereal magazine hits the newsstands

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The South West of England is fast establishing itself as a hotbed of top-form indie publishing, including the titles Hole & Corner (lifestyle), Another Escape (travel), Bone Shaker (cycling) and Cereal (lifestyle).
A new issue of Cereal is about to drop (working another trademark less-is-more cover). Our advice: snap it up! Hello, collectable.

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More info:
A conversation with ace French illustrator Jean Julien

A conversation with ace French illustrator Jean Julien

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We're big fans of illustration. And London-based, French illustrator Jean Jullien is one of faves. We asked him a couple of questions about illustrating for magazines. It's all ace, read on.

Your editorial work doesn't just illustrate a story, it also helps tell the story. Talk us through the creative process from brief to newsstand.
It's as logical as answering a school exercise: you're being given a problem and you have to solve it visually in the best way possible. My approach is quite pragmatic, not very romantic. I think that's why my work is often quite minimal. I try to keep it as simple as possible in order to have as much impact as possible. 

Visually, it needs to be very striking and capture one's attention, then it can elaborate and tell a story. This hierarchy in image reading is the base of my editorial work. Given the visual swarm, I try to make my work easily identifiable. 
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We're loving British kid's magazine Anorak

We're loving British kid's magazine Anorak

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We're big kids at heart. So it's no surprise we love British kid's magazine Anorak. The latest issue landed recently... and it's a double win for us: the cover's illustrated by Philadelphia-based Andy Rementer (legend!) and the issue has a cities theme (hello, we love hustle and bustle!). Think of this issue of Anorak as Monocle for the under 12s. 
It's a double thumbs up from us. Ch, ch, check it right out. Oh, BTW, the illustration inside the issue is by Lauren Humphrey.

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An Interview With The New Yorker Creative Director Wyatt Mitchell

An Interview With The New Yorker Creative Director Wyatt Mitchell

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Regular contributor (and all-round magazine legend!) Bob Newman spoke with The New Yorker creative director Wyatt Mitchell for the new issue of Gym Class. Here's an extract from their conversation.

Bob: You've worked with some amazing creative directors: Florian Bachleda at Vibe and Scott Dadich at WIRED, to name just two. What lessons did you learn from them, and how were you able to apply that to your work?

Wyatt: Very simple. They are the two hardest-working people I've ever worked with. I learned a lot from them. Most importantly, I learned that exceptional work comes not only from talent, but also from working harder than everyone else. While it's a different type of design at The New Yorker, I'd like to think that I'm continuing that ethic and passing it on.
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Kicking off the week with a little spice!

Kicking off the week with a little spice!

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Let's kick off our week of magazine aceness with a little spice. We love the three most recent covers of high-end, classy nudie magazine Odiseo. It's designed by the award-winning Barcelona-based Folch Studio, and the three most recent covers have been confronting (issue two), laugh-out-loud funny (issue three), and lovingly romantic (issue four).

We touched based with Folch Studio's founder Albert Folch to get the lowdown.
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Welcome our guest editor for the week: Gym Class Magazine's Steven Gregor

Welcome our guest editor for the week: Gym Class Magazine's Steven Gregor

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Hi, I'm Steven Gregor and I publish Gym Class. It's a quality fanzine about magazines and the peeps who make them. I also curate the Gym Class Instagram feed. It's a showcase of some of my favorite magazines and a celebration of top-form indie and mainstream editorial design.

Guess what! The fine folk at SPD have handed me the keys to spg.org. Amaze! (Note to self: don't break anything.)

All week I'll be presenting some of my favorite magazine covers right here on the SPD blog. Stay tuned... there will be plenty of ace magazines to gawk at; some sweet Q&As with magazine folk; and even a couple of first-look exclusives. Fancy!

Oh, and did I mention the new issue of Gym Class has just today become available to pre-order? No? Well, it has! (Coincidence?) That's the newsstand cover above, illustrated by the all-amaze artist Noma Bar. Reserve your copy over at the Gym Class website.

(There's also an alternate limited edition cover by illustrator Alexander Wells. I'll show you that one a little later today.)

Also this week, the SPD will be publishing a few exclusive mag-tastic extracts from the new issue of Gym Class. It's all pretty exciting. It's gonna be fun. #MagLoversAhoy

« March 2015