Magazine titles and typography

Typography is an art and more and more people are creating their own typefaces and fonts. Nowadays, type and magazine titles tend to be created on computer screens but right into the 1990s, drawing unique lettering and fonts by hand was the standard way of doing things.

It might have been cheaper to rely on Letraset rub-down lettering or manipulating photoset typefaces – as Matthew Carter did for Private Eye did in 1962 –  but nothing could beat the typographer’s pen for originality. However it’s done, the title is a vital piece of magazine cover design.

Until the 1960s and the dominance of photography for magazine covers, illustrators would often draw the lettering for each issue as part of the overall design. Many magazines did have an artist’s lettering typeset as a standard title however.

Take a look at theses online videos by typographer Davey Farey – whose work includes designing the Times, the Maxim masthead and Blackadder credits – to get a feel for the way it’s done.

The three titles here from Drawing date from 1915 and 1916.  The title is often also called a masthead (though strictly this is the title and panel listing publication details inside); in the US, it’s sometimes called a nameplate. At first glance, they may look the same, but take a closer look and you’ll soon start to see the differences. The top one is damaged.

Drawing title, June 1915

Hand-drawn title for Drawing magazine, June 1915

Hand-drawn title for Drawing magazine, October 1915

Hand-drawn title for Drawing magazine, October 1915

Hand-drawn title for Drawing magazine, February 1916

Hand-drawn title for Drawing magazine, February 1916


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design


 

 

See also: Robert Maxwell’s Not Private Eye

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