Co-Teaching with Eustace Tilley
can teach us about understanding images
It’s A Mag World
Massimo Pitis chats with Jeremy Leslie of Mag Culture about magazines and the never-ending story of printed matter.
Debbie talks to
New York Times Magazine
design director Gail Bichler about magazine design and the role of the magazine cover in the digital age.
Debbie talks to Stack Magazines founder Steven Watson about the passion behind the independent magazines that he loves.
In Praise of Slow Design
Is there a such a thing as slow graphic design? A look at 80 years of barely perceptible design changes at The New Yorker.
Exposure: Drape (Cavalcade III) by Eva Stenram
Abducted in plain sight
Exposure: Nurse Midwife by W. Eugene Smith
The mystery of birth
Exposure: Guts of the Beast by Marcus Nilsson
How to take a food picture
Exposure: Bookstore in Barcelona by Gabriel Casas
A new vision of the book
Exposure: Invisible Man by Gordon Parks
The view from an electric cave
The Name on the Masthead
Remembering Frank Zachary
Exposure: Flypaper and Flies by Jacques-André Boiffard
A cold eye on insect carnage
Dan Friedman, Radical Modernist, Part 4
Dan in the Citi
Exposure: J.G. Ballard by Brian Griffin
The science fiction of the ordinary
The Body as Factory: Anatomy of an Image
Peeling back the skin of a New Scientist cover illustration by Nichola Bruce and Michael Coulson.
Magazine: A Singular View of the City
A monocle is a single eyeglass kept in position by the muscles around the eye. The same can be said of
Magazine, a publication ﬁxated on how cities should all be built in style and for conspicuous consumption.
The Conceptual Advertising of J.G. Ballard
J.G. Ballard’s conceptual ads anticipated the emergence of culture jamming, subvertising, design fiction and speculative design.
Lucia Eames, 1930-2014
An appreciation of Lucia Eames (1930-2014).
Design Director of
Magazine, Debra Bishop discusses her career designing for magazines, including her years working for Martha Stewart, and the tension between designers and editors.
Design Issues Covers
MIT Press has posted a gallery of
covers from 1984-present on Pinterest.
Year of the Women
A year-end wrap-up of my favorite stories. The common theme? Women and the making of design.
Susan S. Szenasy is editor-in-chief of METROPOLIS, the award-winning New York City-based magazine of architecture and design.
Martin Sharp: From Satire to Psychedelia
The late Martin Sharp was a visual innovator whose work erased artificial distinctions between applied image-making and fine art.
Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer, Freelancer
One of the incidental pleasures of Judith Major’s new book on pioneering architecture critic Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer is the glimpse it gives into the life of a cultural journalist at the turn of the past century.
The Trip From Bountyful
Ralph Caplan on his first job: staff writer on a putatively satirical magazine just being formed.
The Craft of Design
's special 2013 design issue is available online or as an iPad app.
The 99 Factor: A Man About Town + Country
Owen Edwards reminisces about Frank Zachary, former editor-in-chief of
Town & Country
The Practical Virtue of Works That Work
Works That Work
magazine reclaims the word “creativity” from the stultifying embrace of branding culture and design thinking.
Flickr Collection of the Week:
The world of
showcases some of the most elaborate production design in film history, all the way down to its magazine covers.
The Covers of
90 years of the cover of
in 120 seconds.
Patterns of Houston
How do you critique the urbanism of Houston? Look for patterns.
What Does ‘The Cover of Time’ Mean?
The cover of
may not speak with authority in the nonstop news cycle. But what does?
Bad Taste True Confessions: Erté
True confessions about my own bad taste. I loved Erté. Did you?
The Latest In Journo-Comics
The New tablet magazine Symbolia debuts, a worthy additoin to today's vibrant nonfiction comics scene.
Making WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing
An except from
Making WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing
by Leonard Koren.
On the enduring power of the simplest shape, from corporations to children’s books.
Homage to Helen Gurley Brown
Owen Edwards remembers Helen Gurley Brown.
Sending Signals about Political Graphics
Issue two of
, a journal about the visual languages used around the world to support political protest.
Updating the Maps of Graphic Design History
Graphic Design: History in the Writing
is a heartening sign that graphic design history is attracting a new generation.
Phil Sayer, Designer of Photo-Portraits
Phil Sayer’s photographic portraits for
gave the magazine great visual impact and presence.
Motif Magazine: The World Made Visible
magazine, founded in 1958, anticipated a new way of seeing, documenting and appreciating the “visible world.”
In Response to An Anatomy of Uncriticism
Alexandra Lange’s article in
about the sacred cows of graphic design sidesteps the issue it raises.
Another Design Voice Falls Silent
As design criticism takes off as a branch of academic study, design publications such as
Welcome to Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities set aside for your perusal and enlightenment.
What the Cooper-Hewitt Needs: More Design, Less Talk
My six suggestions for how to fix the National Design Museum.
Remembering Richard Hamilton as Design Critic
Alice Twemlow remembers Richard Hamilton, artist and design writer.
The House That Design Journalism Built
Printed design magazines continue to fail and close. Where does that leave design writing and criticism?
On My Shelf: Stefan Lorant’s Lilliput
Stefan Lorant’s use of photos in pairs could be wry, funny, bizarre, whimsical, satirical and not always kind.
City Beautiful of Kazakhstan
Why is Norman Foster the go-to guy for new capitals?
Stewart Mackinnon: Ruptured and Remade
Why, at the height of his early success, did a brilliant British illustrator decide to walk away and what happened next?
I Was an Unhappy Hipster
In a renovation by an architect, for a critic, the bookshelves can be a battleground.
A Journal with No Fear of Flying
s change of visual direction is one of the most dramatic ever ventured by a literary magazine.
From the Cabat to the City
Is Bottega Veneta's Tomas Maier an industrial designer trapped in the fashion world?
Stirling, Foster, and a new association with the
The Ugliest Object I Have Ever Owned
What's the ugliest object you've ever owned (and loved)?
Rethinking Conceptual Type Design
In Copenhagen last week, the organizers of “Conceptual Type — Type Led by Ideas” posed the question: “Where are the idealistic fonts, the fonts that are frontiers of new belief?”
Design Writing from Down Under
A new issue of
The National Grid
arrives in the mail. You’ve never seen it? You are missing a treat.
Designer Finds History, Publishes Book
Andrew Blauvelt takes stock of the graphic design history movement that began in the 1980s.
In this podcast interview with Debbie Millman, Stephen Doyle discusses working for Tibor Kalman, renting his soul to the devil and working with his hands.
A look inside little-known design publication Dot Zero, the house organ of pioneering design consultancy Unimark, featuring a slide show and an interview with its designer, Massimo Vignelli.
Vignelli’s Herald (or Heralding Vignelli)
Vignelli Celebration: Steven Heller remembers
In Dwell: Hands Off the Icons
October 2010 issue of
, which celebrates the magazine’s tenth anniversary by
its own (generally happy) homeowners, I offer the following Argument.
William H. Helfand
A slideshow comprised of covers from
a magazine distributed to French physicians.
Edward Koren in Retrospect
The New Yorker
cartoonist Edward Koren.
Walk the Walk, Take the Design
A few years ago I did an interview with
magazine and was forced to subscribe to read the online version.
, which had several enraging features, is not yet fully online except for Blake Lively, bathing suits, clear plastic.
SOM: They’re #1
What is the top architectural firm in the United States? The friendly staff at Architect magazine established a set of criteria, surveyed the profession and crunched the numbers.
Designing the Unthinkable
For more than fifty years, there have been arguments against nuclear proliferation. The Doomsday Clock translates all the arguments to a simple visual analogy.
Julie Lasky, shares her experience at
Good Night Old Friend: ID Magazine Closes After 55 Years
After 55 years,
Magazine, the grand dame of American design publishing, has shuttered. It's a terrible blow to the design world, and especially to those of us in the extended ID family — I was a contributing editor, and wrote for the the magazine for many years.
Another New York
Every time I get an issue of
New York Magazine
lately I ask myself: is Adam Moss turning it into a men’s magazine?
More Hell (Beige Edition)
I thought the Kelly Wearstler fan-fest was over last month, when both
treated her to long profiles.
Houses of the Future
Excellent article on the various single-family housing initiatives going on now in New Orleans.
Ramparts: Agent of Change
magazine has been dead for almost two decades, but to look back at it, it stands out as one to remember.
I'm not so sure that
, the online-only magazine from the former editors of
, is such a good thing.
My Idea of Hell
There is no upside in criticizing Kelly Wearstler, since her press machine just rolls on, as she changes outfits hourly and houses annually.
When Satire Was More Than Funny
In 1901, Samuel Schwarz founded a satiric visual weekly, titled
L’Assiette au Beurre
, expressly poised to attack the functionaries who made their fortunes off the sweat of the citizenry.
Here are links to writing published before I began this blog in June 2009.
The Year Playboy Died
It is often forgotten that the rabbit figure depicted on the early covers of Playboy was very much male, as seen in the January 1954 edition of the magazine. Typically he was an unbridled man, out and about, in good company. The rabbit is first shown in the guise of a woman, upon the opening of the Playboy Club in 1960.
Seattle PI: RIP
was founded 146 years ago, when that city was an industrial backwater on Elliot Bay, a timber town with more logs than people.
An interview with Patrick Coyne, editor of Communication Arts, with special guests Milton Glaser and Cheryl Heller.
Way back in 1965, as a fifteen years old, I was an early EVOtee. I had stumbled upon one of the first issues at a newsstand. The cover, which I remember vividly, had a photo collage of a serpent emerging from battle fatigues worn by America's commanding general in Vietnam, William Westmoreland. Haunting is not a strong enough word to describe the impact that this had on a teen just a year or two out of Valley Forge Military Academy, where, surprisingly, I had learned about the military impossibility of winning the war.
History of Aggressive Design Magazines
Graphic design evolved during the late nineteenth century from a sideline of the printing industry into an autonomous field with its own lore, icons and personalities. The missing link in this evolutionary process is trade magazines. These magazines did not just reflexively report the current trends instead some aggressively codified key methods and mannerisms that in turn defined a profession.
Go West, Young Art Director
When veteran magazine art directors get together to reminisce about the glory years, one title always gets mentioned: West. This storied weekly supplement of the Los Angeles Times, art directed by Mike Salisbury, was a masterwork of design erudition.
It’s How You Said It
Paula Scher: “The problem with the New Yorker’s controversial Obama cover is not that it’s dangerous and tasteless. The problem is that it isn’t dangerous or tasteless enough.”
Vanity Fair Type: 1930 Style
Adam Harrison Levy
The Passion of George Lois
How adman George Lois chronicled the sixties with his cover designs for Esquire magazine, with a peek behind the scenes at the legendary famous Muhammad-Ali-as-St. Sebastian photoshoot.
Today, designers for mainstream advertising companies, weaned on alternative approaches, have folded the underground into the mainstream and called it cool.
Jonah Lehrer, editor-at-large for Seed Magazine, is also a contributor to NPR’s RadioLab. He is the author of
Proust was a Neuroscientist.
Magazines are the sole industry in which you cannot help but judge a book by its cover.
The Work of Task
The presence of
asks, How do you make a magazine for the post-critical, post-movement moment of contemporary graphic design?
A Plea to The New York Times: Index Your Art
Why does the art that adds so much to the texts published in
The New York Times
disappear? Why cannot
The New York Times
simply index the art that it publishes, at least leaving the bibliographic tracings of the work in their newspaper?
Off the Grid
When you abandon most of the rules, how do you define a mistake? How to art direct a newspaper from the middle of the muddy Glastonbury music festival.
An interview with Janet Froelich, former Creative Director at
The New York Times Magazine
, who is currently Design Director at
The Other Monocle
Let's look back to another, virtually forgotten but decidedly important, magazine with the very same name — one that published under the motto, "In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king."
"I Sold My Soul And I Love It"
The current issue of
is "guest edited" by hip British advertising agency Mother. The theme, suggested by Mother, is
I Sold My Soul And I Love It
a vastly contradictory statement, but one that invites debate over what it means to work in visual communication."
Remembering Ann Richards
To create the famous
cover of Governor Ann Richards astride a Harley, art director DJ Stout used a body double. "For many years, I would run into Ann Richards at my favorite Mexican food lunch spot in downtown Austin and she would always thank me for giving her such a 'sexy body.'"
Where the Happy People Go
The ferociously positive letters column in
magazine demonstrates that design can make people almost unnervingly happy.
Koppel to Cooper: Cool, Cooler, Cold
Hey, maybe that's the ticket for McSweeney's: Put some bigtime sexy celebrity on the cover, somebody huge and charismatic and irresistible, somebody like, you know...Ted Koppel! What then to make of this month's cover of
? The fact that the editors there, in offering Anderson Cooper up as the
studmuffin du mois
, may be an occasion for some serious concern.
The Road to Hell: Now Paved with Innovation?
A new magazine from Business Week on design and innovation was created through an unpaid competition. If this is innovation, to hell with it.
Variations on a Theme:
's High Priorities
A half-page weekly feature in New York magazine has become a showcase for some of the world's best graphic designers.
Think Regional, Act Annual
Flying from New York to Los Angeles last week, I spent the long hours at 35,000 feet doing something I had not done in years: I read the
"2005 Regional Design Annual" cover to cover. Here are some of the things I learned:
Emigre: An Ending
Issue 69 of Emigre will be the last. In its heyday, it was the most consistently interesting design publication produced by anyone, anywhere. By 1990, it was one of those magazines you simply had to get hold of and read straight away.
Every New Yorker is a Target
The latest New Yorker magazine has only one advertiser: Target. The effect is disorienting.
We Are All Editors Now. Or Are We?
Many designers aspire to be editors. But being an editor is not simply about choosing some things you like and throwing them together. Editing is about deep engagement with content and the construction of meaning.
The Obvious, Shunned by So Many, Is Successfully Avoided Once Again
Does anyone devote as much energy to avoiding simple, sensible solutions as the modern graphic designer? Publications of designers' own work demonstrate what effort they go through to needlessly complicate what might be simple solutions.
The Supersized, Temporarily Impossible World of Bruce McCall
Illustrator Bruce McCall's vision of an exhuberant, overscale America is evoked by the opening of a new McDonald's in Chicago.
Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot
Dot Dot Dot
is the most stimulating and original visual culture magazine produced by designers since
's heyday in the late 1980s to the mid-1990s.
The Vice Design Issue
Design Issue is not an anti-design tract, but the championing of an aesthetic that's already quite well-established, already wowing museum curators - a casual, trashy, porno-party style that celebrates tack, lo-tech and the good old bohemian values of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
The I.D. Forty: What Are Lists For?
How do we measure one kind of achievement in design against another to arrive at a ranking? The truth is we can’t. The real purpose of
’s list was to underscore the magazine’s position as selector and taste-maker.
Magazine Without a Name, Brand Without a Promise
Posted Without Comment
McSweeney's No. 13 and the Revenge of the Nerds
McSweeney's No. 13, published by Dave Eggers and guest edited by Chris Ware, is a masterwork of publication design and an invaluable survey of today's best comic artists and graphic novelists.
The Final Decline and Total Collapse of the American Magazine Cover
Comparing the magazine covers of today to those created for Esquire magazine in the 1960s by George Lois leads to only one conclusion: today's magazine ideal magazine cover is enticing, not arresting, aiming not for shock, but for seduction. And it stinks.
The Forgotten Design Legacy of the National Lampoon
The rerelease of the National Lampoon's ersatz and hilarious "1964 C. Estes Kefauver Memorial High School Yearbook" is a reminder that the magazine's art directors, Michael Gross and David Kaestle, anticipated our profession's obsession with vernacular graphic languages by almost fifteen years.
Adbusters in Anarchy
’ once orderly pages are in a state of heaving agitation. The magazine seems to be seduced by the coolness of design as a gesture, even though this is part of the surface-fixated postmodernism it deplores.
Color Me Kurt
Having seen Schwarzenegger as a black man before he was elected Governor, one can only imagine what's next for
under Kurt Andersen.
It's a Man's World
Adam Parfrey’s book shows hundreds of men’s magazine covers from the 1950s painted by artists who specialized in depictions of tough guys abusing terrified women. Have we outgrown this kind of thing? Heck no.
| March 30
Your afternoon distraction:
How TV opening titles got to be so damn good
A rabbit hole worth falling down:
Archivo Grafica Italiana
showcases Italy’s graphic design legacy.
the first ever Latvian design award
| March 29
one writer dives into the belly of the assembly-required beast:
How 12 hours in the biggest Ikea in the U.S. destroyed my soul
obsession with hula girls
almost wrecked Hawai‘i. [BV]
What author uses the most exclamation points? Or,
literature by the numbers
Trying to save you from yourself a
Dutch town installs traffic lights on the ground for texting pedestrians
. “They were looking down there anyway.” [BV]
| March 28
could ban Heineken‘s red star logo
over communism concerns. [MPL]
Annals of material culture
: the Bodlean Library at Oxford mounts an exhibit of ledgers revealing what famous people once paid for shoes. [JH]
New one-pound coin in Britain
is designed by a 17-year-old
Design as tourism :
| March 27
The smartphone with
a mission to be used less often
Ethics can‘t be a side hustle
. (Thanks to Ashleigh Axios.) [MB]
Target is redesigning
to take on Amazon. [MPL]
| March 24
A history of the zipper
Designer vs Developer: Google‘s YouTube and podcast series aims to
help bridge understanding
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak
on the early days of design at Apple
| March 23
Norway has redesigned its banknotes:
here’s a preview
. (Via Kevin Hicks.) [JH]
Gurafiku founder Ryan Hageman on
Japanese graphic design
How a photo of a tour van became a “lovely graphic tool”
in the hands of Harry Pearce
The US Supreme Court
rules that design elements can be copyrighted
... if you’re a cheerleader, that is. [JH]
| March 22
10 notebooks for designers
. (And they‘re not all Moleskines.) [MPL]
All of Frida Kahlo‘s anguish, beauty, and pain in, what else,
A collection of
East German beer and drink labels
"The standards of good design don’t change when designing for doing good.”
Why the Resistance doesn’t need another logo
“So now is a good moment to think about
how protest works and what it can achieve
An exhibition on the visual history of protest
opens tomorrow at the Imperial War Museum in London. [JH]
| March 21
Why Christopher Gray was
the witty architectural historian everybody loved
The Resistance has a
from the 70s and 80s. [MB]
Roman Mars ranks government logos
| March 30
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