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 David Bailey!), Alastair Campbell’s interview with Tony Blair, The Drop (their culture section) and even their classified advertising section at the back of the mag which is presented in such an appealing, useful and crafty way that it looks like regular editorial rather than ads. Yes, this is how you do it!

HARPER’S BAZAAR (UK edition) June 2017. Creative Director: Jo Goodby, Design Director: Amy Galvin

Harper’s is always my pick of the women’s mags when it comes to design. I think it’s better looking than Vogue and it always oozes style and sophistication which is down to their delicate use of type and elegant photography. Above is a selection of some of my favourite June layouts.

THE DISH The Sunday Times Food supplement (UK) May 2017. Art Director: Matt Curtis

The Dish is the Sunday Times’ food magazine that comes bundled each month with the rest of their supplements. I like it for it’s positive, buzzy vibe. There’s a strong mix of fonts carefully working in tandem; a flexible underlying grid that allows for quotes, box copy and white space, all to sit comfortably together; bold photos and illustration that always work hard alongside the text; and it uses a delicious bright colour palette of pinks, reds and oranges.

EIGHT BY EIGHT (USA) Issue no. 10. Creative Director: Grace Lee

This New York based quarterly football magazine is a favourite of all the student sports journalists that I teach and it’s easy to see why. Unlike some sports magazines, it’s not at all throwaway – and with its excellent journalism, high-production values and bold ‘in-your-face’ design, it’s more like a book and definitely one to leave lying around on the coffee table. I love it for its super use of illustration – a complete mixture of styles from some top illustrators. Eight by Eight have a number of clever spin-off brand extensions including t-shirts, caps and prints of the illustrations – and if branding is your thing, take a look at their powerful brand statement which perfectly captures the essence of what they’re about.

MIGRANT JOURNAL Issue 1: ‘Across Country’. Art direction: Offshore Studio – Isabel Seifert and Christoph Miler

Take a look at Zurich based design company Offshore Studio’s website for a taster of their sharp and slightly edgy, contemporary editorial design and typography. In September last year they designed and co-edited the first issue of Migrant Journal, a collection of essays on the movement of people, goods and information across the globe. The authoritative, text-book-like design is raised to a higher level with a clever use of spot gold, refined typography and the use of a brilliant custom designed typeface called Migrant Grotesk – a regular sans font given a quirky, edgy and slightly unsettling feel with squared-off strokes on the lowercase ‘g’, ‘y’, ‘j’, ‘t’, ‘r’ and ‘f’ and on the ‘R’, ‘G’ and ‘Y’ capitals.

A feature that is published in both English (black) and French (spot gold)

Close-up of the standfirst which is typeset in Migrant Grotesk and which has quirky squared-off strokes on the descenders

Spot gold is used throughout the magazine as a background colour for infographics and for feature ‘title’ pages. Some diagrams combine 100% cyan with the spot gold, such as the one above illustrating how levees work. 

You can find a good video review of Migrant here by Stack, and MagCulture were even describing it as their magazine ‘of the week… if not the month… if not the year’. Do try and track it down – it looks like issue 2 is now available.

ROOT + BONE (UK) issue No. 13

Root + Bone is a free foodie mag that you can pick up at cafés and bars across London and I grabbed the latest copy at the magCulture shop in Clerkenwell. The design is plain and simple but with tasty dollops of white space and always lots of eye-catching photography and illustration – and to keep costs down it’s printed on cheap newsprint and held together with a couple of staples. It’s a mag I’ve written about before and you can read and see pics of issue 9 here.

THE CALIFORNIA SUNDAY MAGAZINE (USA) April 2017. Art Director: Leo Jung

I’ve saved the best till last – this is a beautiful magazine. It is simple and understated but its delicate typography, white space and striking (and sometimes haunting) photography give it a powerful presence. It’s a bi-monthly independent publication distributed with the LA Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Close-up of the front cover showing the delicate but powerful typography

Two-page article on ‘Archiving the internet’. Note the deft touches: a small headline, the gully of white space at the top of the 2nd coloumn and the inter-column rule that pops out at the bottom of the page to pick up the page tab

Part of a four-page picture-heavy feature on migrant farm workers in Twin Falls, Idaho

Powerful portrait photography from a 16-page long-form feature on healthy fast-food restaurant Locol, set up by a top chef in the tough Watts district of LA

Another long-form article – this one on Argentina’s ‘missing babies’ and their grandmothers’ search for them. Note the horizontal rules in the right hand column to denote those that ‘disappeared’. This device is repeated throughout the feature

Part of a picture essay on ‘Dirty Birds’ – America’s national symbol, the bald eagle scavenging for food in an Alaskan fishing port

‘Letter from a drowned canyon’ – the headline (above) and quote (below) become ‘submerged in water’ with a simple use of black then grey type

If you want to see more of this wonderful mag, it’s available for purchase from the magCulture shop or take a look at TCSM’s website. And you can read an excellent review of the April issue by magCulture. Here’s my review of the August 2016 issue.

Finally, a quick mention for The Gourmand magazine. I see that their latest issue no. 9 has just been published. It’s a bi-annual magazine for food lovers and it’s been around now for at least five years but it still looks just as good and has the same impact as it did in 2012 when it first appeared. It makes use of a couple of old fashioned fonts: the serif Cheltenham with its longer ascenders and short x-height, and the sans Grotesque with its clumsy characters, both of which give it a curious retro feel. Intriguing photography and its combination of uncoated and super high-gloss papers all add to its ability to shine out alongside many other indie mags. Here are some cracking pages from the latest issue.