All posts filed under: Magazines

Reading, writing and typography

Pictured above. A collection of old signs and letters on display in the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. Photo by Rachel Bray Notebook 18 June 2017 | DEGREE SHOWS | TYPOGRAPHY Reading with a cap ‘R’ – the Thames Valley, Crossrail boomtown; home to the rock festival and the gaol where Oscar Wilde was incarcerated; and home for a while, to poor old Jude Fawley in Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure. Once upon a time I spent a week in Reading hospital having my appendix whipped out. It was my first encounter with a scalpel (a few years later I was to learn that the ’10a’ scalpel blade was the graphic designer’s preferred blade of choice). And in 1974 or so, I would have tottered on my platform shoes into Reading’s Top Rank nightclub to see the legendary singer Edwin Starr perform. The ugly old station-side nightclub has long since disappeared and been replaced by smart office blocks but the town is still rather dull and congested with traffic. …

Newies but goodies

Notebook 25 May 2017 | MAGAZINES Last month I wrote about a cluster of wonderful old magazines that I’d unearthed tidying the studio. This month I’m taking a look at a selection of new purchases that I’ve recently enjoyed, starting with a couple of heavyweight and always good-looking consumer titles… GQ (UK edition) June 2017. Creative Director: Paul Solomons, Art Director: Keith Waterfield In some ways GQ is the perfect magazine. For anyone who knows me, I clearly don’t buy it for its features about fast cars, expensive watches and male grooming products. Instead I admire it for its consistently good looks. And it’s the magazine that I like to wave in front of journalism and design students as an example of ‘this is how you do it!’ – because it does do everything so well – from its rich mix of high-quality, short and long-form content, great flat-planning and pace – to its well-engineered design and typography that always makes use of the best photography, illustration and infographics. Highlights of this month’s issue (pictured above) include a profile of London Mayor, Sadiq Khan (with portrait by …

Oldies but goodies

Notebook: 28 April | MAGAZINES The office is a mess. I have too many old magazines and newspapers cluttering up the shelves and I really ought to throw some of them away to make space for all the new stuff. Trouble is, they’re all great mags, despite their age. Here’s five that I’ve just unearthed and dusted down… ELLE DECOR 1990 (US edition). Art Director: Jean-Marie Hatier American Elle Decor still looks as stylish as it did 27 years ago – luscious pictures, tight grid, white space, carefully crafted headlines and unusually narrow columns. Delicious! I think the headline and text font are both Baskerville Old Style. LUFTHANSA BORDBUCH 1995 (Germany) The Lufthansa in-flight customer magazine. Design/layout Alberto Garcia-Izquierdo and Rolf Kuhl The Lufthansa magazine was cool and pared back with excellent photography and dollops of white space. The same features appeared twice – first in German and then in English, but with different pictures. Headlines and text are set in Helvetica. I believe that the magazine is still in production and that it looks very much like it did 22 years ago. ECONY 1999 …

magCulture Meets Real Review

Notebook: 6 April 2017 | MAGAZINES magCulture Meets are a monthly series of informal talks by magazine makers and designers at the magCulture shop in St John Street, Clerkenwell, London and their most recent event was a session with the editor and designer of the award-winning Real Review architecture based magazine. The talk coincided with the release of the third issue of the magazine and, just like issues one and two, it comes packaged in its distinctive cellophane wrapper and is branded with a red face illustration by the brilliant Nishant Choksi and a large, black, ‘brutalist’ ‘R’. But it’s Real Review’s tall, thin, double-folded format that really sets it apart – it is saddle-stitched and then folded again vertically so that it fits comfortably in the hand. The reader can then chose to read one slim page at a time or unfold the magazine further to reveal additional long-form content. Editor Jack Self (from The Real Foundation) and designer Rory McGrath (from design agency OK-RM) explain how the magazine has been designed to feel disposable and not at all precious – they didn’t want it …

Remember Eat Soup?

Notebook: 20 January 2016 | MAGAZINES I’ve been teaching journalism students about magazine publishing – reader profile, branding, content, editorial design, advertising, distribution and so on. They had to come up with a brand idea that could be rolled out across a magazine, website and social media. One group decided on a student mag that would focus on eating and drinking on a budget. After a brain-storming session to pick a name for their publication, they came up with the snappy title of Bread and Water which seemed to perfectly match the jokey, tongue-in-cheek style of their content. It immediately made me think of Eat Soup magazine. Anybody remember that one? Launched in 1996 off the back of IPC’s Loaded magazine, Eat Soup was a food, drink and travel magazine aimed at a typical ‘men-behaving-badly’ type male reader. It carried the brilliant tag line, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful” and it had the same pioneering, swashbuckling, crash-bang-wallop style of its sister title Loaded with busy and energetic layouts. Contributors included Will Self, Keith Floyd, Tom Conran and Len Deighton. Eat Soup was the brainchild of …

The NYT mag – less is more

Notebook: 13 January with updates 6 July 2017 | MAGAZINES On Sunday 1 January 2017 The New York Times Magazine ran a striking black and white photograph on its cover (by photographer Devin Yalkin). It was a close-up portrait of Sam Siatta, an ex US marine who after facing the horrors of war in Afghanistan, returned home to struggle with depression, alcohol dependency and PTSD. Alongside it a very small headline said simply: THE FIGHTER by CJ CHIVERS and three smaller headlines, carefully spaced apart down the left hand side of the photo stated: THE MARINE CORPS TAUGHT SAM SIATTA HOW TO SHOOT. THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN TAUGHT HIM HOW TO KILL. NOBODY TAUGHT HIM HOW TO COME HOME. It was brilliant journalism – a very simple but immensely captivating cover and a demonstration that with design, less is often much more – if a picture is striking then why clutter it with a large headline – let the picture do the talking, with a smaller, quieter headline adding to the drama. Some of my favourite NYT mag covers from 2016/17 are shown below and what they …

A review of Real Review, The California Sunday Magazine and IL

Notebook: 5 September 2016 | MAGAZINES Last Wednesday I had a meeting in Spitalfields. With an hour to fill before catching my train back to Norfolk I decided to pay a flying visit to the brilliant MagCulture shop on St John Street in Clerkenwell to stock up with some new magazines. I took the tube to Farringdon and bustled my way through the back streets of Little Italy. I’d forgotten how hilly this small corner of London is (Saffron Hill, Herbal Hill…) and with a heavy bag and stifling late August heat, I paused outside St Peter’s Italian Church on Clerkenwell Road to catch my breath and study the map. I cut down Bowling Green Lane and was soon at the shop. My last visit had been 4 months ago (more on that here) and this time around the shelves were stocked with even more goodies – not just the rows and rows of luscious independent magazines but also some great looking foreign newspaper supplements which I don’t think are available anywhere else in the UK and which I snaffled up. The first of these was a couple of …

Monocle 24 on magazine (and book) cover design

Notebook: 3 September 2016 | MAGAZINES | BOOK DESIGN Monocle 24 is a live, 24-hour radio show broadcast from Marylebone, London and part of the Monocle media brand. In late August 2016 they broadcast an excellent 30 minute show entitled ‘How do you design a front cover?’ featuring presenter Robert Bound, Monocle‘s creative director Richard Spencer Powell and design journalist Adrian Shaughnessy. They discussed the art of making an eye-catching front cover – both for magazines and books, and they covered off topics such as: print v digital, cover imagery, use of colour, cover lines, an element of ‘surprise’, knowing your audience and originality. It’s a fascinating 30 minutes and you can listen to it here. The Monocle brand includes Monocle (the monthly global affairs and lifestyle magazine), a website, Monocle 24 (radio station), The Escapist (Travel mag) and The Forecast (annual magazine previewing the year ahead) as well as a couple of cafés in London and Tokyo. You can read my review of last year’s The Escapist magazine here.

Spoilt for choice – London’s listings mags in the early 1980s

Notebook: 12 May 2016 | MAGAZINES Just had a sort out in the studio and I’ve come across some old copies of the long defunct London listing’s magazines City Limits and, the much shorter lived, Event. The history behind them goes something like this… For a few crazy weeks in 1981, Londoners and visitors to the capital, had the pick of three different weekly listings mags that all vied for their attention with striking cover designs. There was Time Out of course, which had been going since 1968 and is still going strong today. The design was by the brilliant Pearce Marchbank who in 1971 established the classic identity – easy-to-read listings using the Franklin Gothic font family, and witty ‘ideas’ covers that ‘became an essential part of London life‘. Up until 1981 Time Out had been run as a co-operative by its founder and owner Tony Elliot but his decision to abandon the co-operative principles sparked a strike by journalists and the magazine temporarily ceased publication. The striking journalists went on to set up their own London listings magazine …

Here, there and ELSEWHERE

Notebook: 24 April 2016 | MAGAZINES Last week I had a business meeting at The Royal Academy on Piccadilly. Afterwards I had some time to kill and so I decided to walk from Piccadilly back to Liverpool Street before catching my train home to Norfolk. I would go via the MagCulture shop in Clerkenwell and pick up some new indie magazines. I love to walk, especially in a city because you get to see, hear and smell things that you’d miss in a car or on the underground. Often your knowledge and mental mapping of a city is based on areas that you know well – such as your home and place of work plus the thin transport route that connects the two – but you never really get to know the areas in between unless you venture out on foot to explore. I headed down (up?) Piccadilly towards the Circus. In front of me a smartly groomed business woman was striding out and puffing on a cheroot and for a moment I enjoyed the whiff of the tobacco. …