Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Magazine Covers just ain't the same...

I've been doing a little reading lately.

Stumbled across this article on George Lois' views on modern-day magazines. Lois is a legendary designer, who was the visionary behind many of Esquire Magazine's iconic covers in the 60 &70's. 38 of his covers are in MoMA (Museum of Modern Art).

He basically believes that today's magazines have lost there uniqueness. That they are less focused on the art, and more on selling the issue by putting a celebrity on the cover. He thinks magazines should have more 'white space,' and less headlines on the covers. His words below.

“Why do you put all those cover lines on? They say, ‘Well, if I don’t get somebody interested in this one, I’ll get somebody interested in that one.’"

“They say, ‘People buy magazines to read, for information.’ Well, you buy a magazine not only for that but so you can have exciting visual experiences. They try to jam words and pictures on every square-inch of the page like they’re working on a Web site."

“Look at Vogue. Oh my God. Vogue and Harper’s once were very well designed magazines. I mean they were exciting to look at. You could not give a shit about fashion and be excited by the whole look of the magazine. You look at Vogue now: it’s not even designed. What a difference. You pick up a Vogue back in the days of [Condé Nast’s Alexander] Lieberman and those guys, and you look at it now, and it’s a disgrace."

This man is THE TRUTH. Look at his covers compared to today's covers.

Open 'white space' allows the viewer to take in the meaning/message portrayed on the cover.
Today's covers are cluttered with headlines and feature celebrities to draw attention.

I will go on to say that a lot has changed in the publishing industry since Lois' time.

Print media in general is struggling because today's technologically-advanced society is gravitating towards the Internet for literally everything. Editors MUST plaster headlines on the cover to grab the viewers attention. They want to bring the reader in, and cause impulse purchases at the newsstand. I bought a Cosmo issue, once,because the cover talked about dealing with men, and I was interested. I would not have bought a magazine at all had that issue not grabbed my attention. I was just standing in line at Walmart...ready to go!

Sidebar: I have been meaning to buy the Glamour issue above featuring Michelle Obama...mainly because she is so gorgeously gracing the cover.
I work at a store that runs a promotion with Instyle magazine. Taylor Swift is on the December issue, and Taylor Swift sells that issue. On many occasion, I've seen a mother-daughter duo say "Oh, is that Taylor on the cover?!!" Young girls light up when they see it. Grown women do too.
Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue magazine (for SO many year), spoke in the movie, The September Issue, of how she reacted to societal trends by using celebrities as cover models. She was ahead of the curve, and luckily so. American society is heavily rooted in the idea of celebrity lifestyle. No matter how much most of us hate to admit it, we want to live like a celebrity, we want to dress like a celebrity, we would love to be a celebrity (in general!). CELEBS SELL MAGAZINES, and that's just how it is.

I would love to be able to enjoy the artistry and design that magazines once offered, but we must move with the times. The only thing that really matters is the bottom line. Money talks, so I guess the 'white space' must walk!

You can view the article mentioned above here:http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2009/12/legendary_designer_george_lois.html#ixzz0Z5DV2xbd


  1. Interesting, but he does make a good point about the old magazine covers. Less is MORE! =) (in some cases)

  2. Yes, his points are insightful, but I just don't think it can/will ever be the same...
    Now, I want to find some old Vogue and Haper's mags to compare to the present!