from the PopCult mail room,
as chosen by Zippy McDuff, The Invisible Intern.
us your own
(Please tell us whether to include your e-mail address.)
after mediabistro.com and usatoday.com linked "The
Decline of Western Magazine Design," I expected a flurry of hate mail
from upset New York art directors. Instead, I got nice letters of approval.
So much for fomenting revolution among the cubicles. But perhaps somewhere
there is a publisher privately fuming.
well done on the "then and now" article on magazine covers. This is something
that I've frequently thought about but always came to the conclusion that
the American public is too attention-disordered to fiddle around with
artsy covers. It requires imagination and thought
Western culture certainly lacks.
am an editor for a group of outdoor publications, primarily hunting and
for the great read,
ridden, I stumbled upon your site via the daily news feed on Media Bistro
and was pleasantly surprised.
an art director of a weekly trade/business-to-business mag, I loved your
article on the "The Decline of Western Magazine Design." I am a big fan
of fewer cover lines, but the editorial honchos who run the show beg for
more, and I've got a corporate president who doesn't like illustration
as a rule, so it's a constant struggle (he actually loves today's Fortune,
and looking at those old illustrated covers is great fodder). You are
right though; today's magazine covers are, for lack of a better word,
for a great article and site...consider me a new subscriber.
& e-mail address withheld)
there. Just had a thought about your cover controversy:
is the marketing mantra of the day, one for which magazines have fallen
for completely. (Witness Dennis Publications' Maxim "brand extensions"
like compilation CDs and, cringe, hair color for men or the entire army
of Southern Living At Home products or Vanity Fair's Oscar
party.) So, given the impulse to cultivate brand recognition, you'd think
that magazine covers might actually have blossomed and become more artful
in recent years as consumers begin to form attachments to the magazines
themselves. That's the ultimate purpose of brandingto get consumers/readers
to form an emotional bond with their "Vogue" magazine, not with
Giselle Bundchen as brought to them by Vogue. If the brand were
truly marketed successfully, consumers would respond simply to recognizing
Vogue, along with its signifying design elements (whatever those
might be: its distinctive masthead, style of photography, or text treatments)
for itself, because they'd come to identify "Vogue" and the information
it contains as a can't-do-without element in their lives. But instead,
all of these branding efforts seem to have been subverted and many magazines
are merely vessels for the celebrity or product du jour; consumers don't
necessarily love Vogue for Vogue, they love Vogue
because it brings them closer to Giselle Bundchen and her Balenciaga peasant
blouse; or Vanity Fair for, ugh, Benjamin Bratt's wet pecs; or
US for, even worse, J.Lo's and Ben's shenanigans.
subjectnot the contextis what's really being branded here.
This is why custom-personality-published magazines like Oprah,
Martha, and Rosie will ultimately go down as quick-buck
propositions. McCall's had been published forever. Did anyone really
think that Rosie would still be in circulation in the year 2075?
They're too closely affiliated with their subjects and not their content.
Playboy is the biggest disappointmentits brand recognition
is up there with Coke and McDonald's. You just know there are gonna be
tits inside. Every single time. So why practically give the game away
with boring covers like they do? That picture of Drew Barrymore could
be on Maxim or FHM or Details or anything really.
Playboy could publish a solid red cover that bears only the words
Playboy Vol. 12, No. 587 and probably sell just as many.
think the people who are probably the least respected art directors in
the businessthose at the big newsweeklies, particularly the New
Yorker and Time, and the food mags like Real Simple
and Gourmet (you can always tell their covers at 15 feet just by
the image design treatment alone)are actually the most savvy at
navigating the celebrity-polluted waters and building significant brand
relationships with their readers.
(e-mail address withheld)
just wanted to write and thank you effusively and with great sincerity
for your article on the current dearth of good magazine design. As a former
regional magazine editor (in Florida in the '80s) I can not only relate
to having to fight for decent design, I can empathize with those who mourn
the passing of great covers. As a co-worker of mine pointed out, it's
all about the bottom line these days, with corporations believing their
marketing surveys, consultants, and demographic stats are proof positive
that the only magazines that will be read are those with a half-nude celeb
on the cover, and contents that are a step above the National Enquirer
(mainly celeb gossip and diet articles). It's also cheaper to use a shot
that you already have from an interior layout, rather than hire an illustrator
to design a stunning cover. The publisher I worked for believed that with
the computer age comes a dwindling attention span, hence most of the content
had to be hawked on the cover for people to buy the publication.
used to subscribe to five or six magazines, but now I only subscribe to
one, as the rest seem to be clones of one another with little to offer
a reader of intelligence.
design and content of your web magazine, however, seems delightful, and
I plan on visiting frequently. Thank you again for a wonderful article
and comparison of covers.