Eye #96

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about design and visual culture.

This quarterly publication is dripping with excellent design, featuring insightful and intelligent examinations of topics and trends in the design world alongside looks at particularly exceptional works of design, both historical and contemporary. It also offers comment and opinion and reviews of relevant books and exhibitions. Whether you are a student, a professor, in the design industry or simply interested in it, Eye is a top quality look at the world of graphic design.

Magazine special issue part one - Anatomy of a Magazine

 A magazine is more than ‘content’. It is an artefact, a style choice, a treat, a mini-poster, a source of comfort or of tribal allegiance, and a way to shape thoughts and test opinions. Though websites and social media deal with many of the itches once scratched by magazines, there are few marriages of app and screen that are quite like reading a magazine.

A magazine is very much a ‘designed’ experience, which is why Eye is devoting two special issues to the subject. A mag’s editorial structure, examined in ‘Anatomy of a magazine’, determines the way readers absorb and enjoy its words and pictures. Even when art directors and editors junk the rules and reinvent the form, there are certain elements – covers, features, front matter, advertising and so on – that inform the way a magazine is created, perpetuated and refreshed over time.

This judiciously balanced mix of surprise and familiarity requires design teams who combine sensitivity and self-effacement with steely determination and a firm grasp of printing deadlines. These are qualities demonstrated by our Reputations interview with Gail Bichler, design director of the New York Times Magazine, and a feature about Tom Wolsey’s art direction of Town magazine. Bichler leads a team that forges exemplary art direction each and every week, while dealing with a stream of challenges, from virtual reality to print-only supplements. Wolsey made a magazine for an untapped readership in the 1960s, forging close bonds with a new breed of photographer.

Eye 97 will delve further into magazines past and present – both independent and ‘mainstream’ – but as a taster we have Martin Colyer’s review of five new books about influential magazines, including Rolling Stone, The Face and Octavo.

Big illustrated books can be an exercise in nostalgia, but Colyer has no time for the notion that a ‘golden age’ has come and gone: some of the best examples are recent. The age of Trump, Brexit and #metoo has prompted some of the most innovative and effective magazine-making of the past century, as demonstrated by New York’s ‘Cosby: The Women’ cover.

At a time when practitioners fret about the purpose of graphic design in a troubled world, magazines provide an opportunity to engage with real issues and subjects, to entertain and inform with typography, illustration, information graphics, photography and layout. At its best, magazine design is an endlessly rewarding dialogue with contributors and readers