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 all have in common is this same combination of a striking image with pared back typography. And the pictures are always carefully cropped or framed to give the covers even more impact.
In contrast to the simple type choice of the front covers, NYT mag‘s inside pages sparkle with bold typography that changes from issue to issue to often marry with the content. So for instance, their celebrated New York issue which focussed on the city’s high rise buildings (and cleverly turned the magazine on its side) – used a bold, super condensed sans font to reflect the skyscrapers. And their Olympics issue had headlines that echo the movement and energy of the athletes. For a small taster of this delicious content, take a look at the links to the animated gifs below which appear on NYT mag Design Director Gail Bichler’s Twitter timeline.
The creative team behind The New York Times Magazine are Gail Bichler and Art Director Matt Willey together with Director of Photography Kathy Ryan and Editor Jack Silverstein (plus of course, their designers, picture editors and journalists). Their collaboration is key to the magazine’s success – and you can read more about their teamwork and brilliant use of imagery and typography in a very good article in Creative Review magazine.
If you’re lucky enough to be in New York over the summer, then do try and visit the Type Directors Club who are holding an exhibition of the New York Times Magazine. The exhibition includes covers, spreads, and full special issues. The focus is on typographic highlights since the redesign of the magazine in 2015 including the magazine’s new typefaces and the thinking behind these faces. Also featured is some of the magazine’s most powerful imagery. Sounds brilliant! It’s free but you’ll need to book. Details here.