Archive for the ‘design’ Category

Bovril’s spiky type

May 24, 2016

 

Bovril's spikey type on ad advert from the New Penny Magazine in 1900

Bovril’s spiky type on an advert from the New Penny Magazine in 1900

Bovril’s Victorian adverts were often striking and the company established a brand that is still famous today. I particularly like an 1892 image of Hercules fighting a lion. The later, half-page advert above is very different and notable for its spiky type.

It’s difficult to avoid seeing that image – notice the way the advert is framed with white space around to ensure it stands away from other images on the page. The text is all about broadening the market for a food that was invented to fortify troops fighting in the Crimean War.

Magazine mantra: ‘No heads above the masthead’

May 9, 2016
Front cover title from Woman's Own from 19 May 1955

Front cover title from this 1955 Woman’s Own magazine overlays actress Dawn Addams

The typographer Dave Farey reminded me of the magazine designer’s mantra ‘No heads above the masthead’ at the recent launch of A History of British Magazine Design. So he immediately came to mind when I saw this front cover design from Woman’s Own dating back to 19 May 1955.

The full magazine front cover from Woman's Own ahowing the Dawn Addams knitted jacket

The full magazine front cover from Woman’s Own showing the Dawn Addams knitted playtime jacket

The actress Dawn Addams is photographed modelling a knitted jacket, but quite what the designer was up to is a mystery.

Were the film star’s eyes deliberately positioned to peer round the letters? Was the photograph cropped to show the most of the jacket? Whatever the intention, the end result is a mess.

Addams was a ‘delightfully vivacious’ British-born actress who had recently married an Italian prince, the ‘darkly handsome’ Vittorio Massimo, and had her first baby.

 

 

Magazine design book launched

May 1, 2016
A History of British Magazine Design by Anthony Quinn - now out from V&A Books

A History of British Magazine Design by Anthony Quinn – now out from V&A Books

Last week saw the launch of A History of British Magazine Design, a book that’s been almost seven years in the making. The V&A commissioned me to write the book and the end result – even though I say it myself – is fantastic, with a great design by Joe Ewart. Lesley Levene, the copy editor, kept me on my toes with her thorough fact checking and queries (I even had to show how Wikipedia had got things wrong!).

The interviews and reviews have started to go online:

Matthew Whitehouse at i-D magazine has done a piece ‘Exploring the origins of British magazine design

Caroline Keppel-Palmer from the Museum Bookshop, which specialises in books about museums and their collections.

At MagCulture, with an interview by Madeleine Morley. The launch of the book took place at the MagCulture shop in Islington where they sell some 300 titles from around the world – very fitting!

And 99designs, which has a feature on ’20 new design books for your summer reading list’

The core of the book is mainstream consumer magazines, starting in the early 1840s and the launches of Punch and the Illustrated London News. In about 240 pages and with some 450 pictures of covers and spreads, it shows how magazine design has evolved, taking in influences from society and, in turn, influencing that society. Ian Locks, who was chief executive of the Periodical Publishers Association (PPA) for 20 years and is a former Master of The Stationers’ Company, provided the Foreword.

The cover shows parts from seven covers and one spread, with the magazines dating from 1870 to 1996. (Can you name them all?)

Who will want to read the book? Well, people who like beautiful books for a start. Everyone who’s seen a copy has found something that’s grabbed them, whether that’s a magazine from their childhood or that’s related to an interest they have in art, music or literature. Photographers have peered at the 1957 Picture Post spread stitched together from 15 Bert Hardy images, for example. And everyone smiles at John Gilroy’s grinning cat from Radio Times in the 1930s.

Obviously, students and academics of magazines, design and the media in general. And practitioners in those industries. At £30/$50, it’s not cheap, but the value is really good because that price was set 7 years ago!

The book’s for sale online in all the usual places, such as:

And don’t forget your local bookshop!

David Puttnam and Boxer’s London Life

March 3, 2016
The weekly London LIfe in October 1965 under Mark Boxer

The weekly London Life in October 1965 under Mark Boxer

Perusing the biography David Puttnam: The Story So Far by Andrew Yule, I came across a section about his work on the weekly listings magazine London Life, which was developed to replace Tatler, in the 1960s.

The book describes how Puttnam, who as a film-maker would go on to have hits with Midnight Express and The Killing Fields, was temporarily loaned out to the Thompson Organisation by his employers, the advertising agency Collett Dickenson Pearce (CDP), as managing editor on the magazine.

It should have been a dream team – David Hillman on design, Duffy, Donovan and Bailey as photographic advisers, and Jean Shrimpton as a guest fashion editor, all under editor Mark Boxer, who had launched the Sunday Times Colour Supplement in 1962. Unfortunately, the assignment turned into a ‘nightmare’ as the launch of London Life ‘ran aground’ because of corporate politics.

The situation turned farcical as the weekly editorial budget of £1200 was cut three weeks before the magazine started functioning to £750. [Puttnam] became convinced that the whole assignment was a political set-up to ‘get’ Mark Boxer, then a great friend and confidant of Denis Hamilton, editor of the Sunday Times and managing director of the Thompson Group, to whom Boxer was seen by many as a threatening heir-apparent. [Puttnam] at one point was even asked to go in and give evidence that Boxer, of whom he was very fond, ‘was showing signs of clinical paranoia’. It was back to CDP, sadder and wiser…

London Life – ‘a comprehensive guide to the entertainment scene: films, theatre, restaurants, night life, music, sport’ – did come out but was hellishly expensive to run and by autumn 1966 Boxer had been replaced by Ian Howard with Tony Page as art editor. After several redesigns it folded in 1967. Boxer would go on to become editorial director at Condé Nast – and for a rejuvenated Tatler as a monthly.

London Life was printed by Sun Printers, Watford, with the covers produced by East Midland Litho in Peterborough. It was published every Thursday from Elm House, 10-16 Elm St, London WC1.

London Life profile at Magforum

A happy end to a magazine

February 3, 2016
Last issue of Amalgamated Press's War Illustrated on 8 February 1919

No sad ending: the last issue of Amalgamated Press’s War Illustrated on 8 February 1919. Allies from the Empire (to the left) and Europe are portrayed with a statue of Victory

The demise of a magazine is normally a sad time but note the cover line below this image on the front of War Illustrated from 1919: ‘The Happy End’. The cheery angle came about because this issue marked the end of the Great War after more than four years of slaughter. Also, the magazine was about to rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of closure with a different name – New Illustrated – the next week. In essence, it was being relaunched with a different name and editorial strategy under its editor JA Hammerton.

Alfred Harmsworth’s Amalgamated Press had a winning team on its hands under Hammerton and the back cover ran his editorial ‘An end and a beginning’, along with an order coupon for the next issue. Yet, relaunching a magazine is always a challenge – keeping the established readership while attracting new buyers is very difficult.

John Hammerton was one of the most successful editors of his generation. He is best known for his work with Arthur Mee producing magazines and partworks that were then republished as some of the best selling books of the day. These included the Harmsworth Self-Educator, Harmsworth’s Universal Encyclopædia and the Children’s Encyclopaedia. In 1933, his Popular History of the Great War was published in six volumes. So, Hammerton set about the task of changing the editorial philosophy of War Illustrated from one of recording a war’s progress to creating New Illustrated as ‘a fascinating pageant of the living history of our own times’.

First, the changes were announced several weeks in advance with a competition to come up with a name for the relaunched magazine – and a tempting £100 prize. This was at a time when a soldier’s pay was about £1 a week, so such a fortune was great publicity. For a month, the back page ran its editorial focusing on the idea with introductions such as: ‘Some of my readers have asked me to help them think of a title for the successor to the War Illustrated … I am yielding to the requests that have reached me by giving a very brief outline of my scheme.’ (By ‘very brief’ Hammerton means the whole of the back page.)

The War Illustrated was launched to record the progress of the war in photographs and illustrations and was designed to be bound into annual volumes. The format was an A4-ish page size on newsprint. Each issue was 32 sides plus the covers (wrappers in the language of the day) and they were numbered sequentially: issue one, 1-32; issue two, 33-64, and so on. Later issues added a four-page centre section printed gravure, which gave a much better reproduction for photographs and raised the pagination to 36 plus 4.

New Illustrated kept to this format and initially looked little different. The volume strategy was still in place with the new title being seen as a ‘continuous sequel’ to War Illustrated. However, as the issues went on, the martial content was slowly decreased. In April, a marked shift took place with a switch to gravure covers. Hammerton announced:

there is nothing quite so costly as the photogravure process which the New Illustrated is introducing for the first time to popular British journalism

Very good artists were always used, such as Harry Rodmell and Francisco Sancha, and the photographs would have looked amazing at the time. May saw a woman on a cover – Lady Diana Manners dressed as Britannia. Manners was one of the leading socialites of the day, and is better remembered today under her married name of Lady Diana Cooper (or as the great aunt of Tory prime minister David Cameron).

From June, the covers always showed women and colour was introduced with dazzling designs befitting the start of the Jazz Age and illustrations by artists such as Billy Bunter illustrator Leonard Shields and photographs by Lallie Charles – who, with her sister Rita, was one of the most successful portraitists of the early 1900s. The women portrayed were shown in the latest fashions, or at parties or at play in the snow, or using the latest technology in the form of the telephone.

New Illustrated starts to change its name to Record Weekly in 1920 (January 17 issue)

New Illustrated starts to change its name to Record Weekly in 1920 (January 17 issue)

However, depression set in as the economy struggled to switch from wartime to peacetime thinking with millions of demobbed troops looking for work. So the start of 1920 saw another relaunch in progress. The masthead became ‘The Record New Illustrated Weekly’, though with the emphasis still on ‘New Illustrated’. With each issue, the emphasis changed until Record Weekly fully emerged from its chrysalis in March. However, the strategy failed and 20 March saw the last issue.

This might finally have been the end of War Illustrated, had not an Austrian painter called Adolph Hitler come along to give rise to World War II. Hammerton – by then Sir John Hammerton – dusted off the War Illustrated strategy and the magazine rose again to record that conflict in a similar way.

EF Skinner's signature on the War Illustrated illustration (8 February 1919)

EF Skinner’s signature on War Illustrated (8 February 1919)

The illustration for the last issue of War Illustrated is by Edward Frederick Skinner, whose works are held by both the Science Museum and the Imperial War Museum. These paintings all depict industry and factories harnessed to the needs of war, but Skinner was a varied and sought-after artist, as the Father Christmas image and the lengthily titled ‘High Priest Coifi riding up Goodmanham Lane to smash the Idols‘ from Little Treasure Island by Arthur Mee (Hodder & Stoughton, 1920) show. The much-enlarged signature here also highlights the crude tones produced by letterpress printing as compared with modern colour lithography.

Magculture – London’s new magazine shop

February 2, 2016
Football magazine 8 by 8 - available from the Magculture shop

Clip Klopp: football magazine 8 by 8 – available from the Magculture shop

I dropped in on magazine design guru Jeremy Leslie last week at his new Magculture magazine shop on my way back form a meeting at London’s City University. It’s a great location, just south of the university’s journalism school and so close to some of the great historical sites associated with magazines, from St John’s Gate to the Grub Street area where many hack writers – Dr Johnson among them – lived before making their names and moving closer to Fleet Street.

Only about 500 yards separate the home of the world’s first magazine from Magculture with its displays of the world’s latest independent magazines.

The front of the Magculture shop

The front of the Magculture shop

Jeremy has his studio behind the shop and it’s also a great space for hosting events – the display wall at the rear is on wheels and moves back to create a bigger space! Crafty stuff. And the shelves are all Vitsoe – I planned a display wall using the system in a house I wanted to buy about 20 years ago, but the sale fell through. And have you seen the prices of second-hand Vitsoe on eBay? Really holds its value.

The Magculture shop stocks 250 titles, probably about a fifth from overseas. I came away with a Magculture bag stuffed with US football title Eight by Eight, Elsie, Cover Junkie‘s This is not an addiction…‘, a copy of Jeremy’s Independence and Magculture’s My Favourite Magazine  and catalogue. Online shops are just so boring in comparison.

Magculture is at 270 St John St, EC1V 4PE.

Magazine cover design: the 3D nose effect

December 5, 2015
José Ferrer as Cyrano de Bergerac on this Everybody's magazine cover from 10 October 1951. The design has a 3D effect, with the nose appearing to stand proud of the page

This Everybody’s magazine cover design from 10 October 1951 has a 3D effect, with the nose appearing to stand proud of the page

There was a push into 3D photography and films in the 1950s, and this found its way into magazines. Picturegoer used clever cover designs  to achieve a three-dimensional effect and this Everybody’s magazine creates a smile with its trick layout.

Everybody’s was a popular large format weekly magazine that was published by Everybody’s Publications at 114 Fleet Street and printed by Sun in Watford, but later taken over by Amalgamated Press and merged into John Bull. One of the articles in the above issue was ‘Football in French!’ by a 20-year-old Brian Glanville.

José Ferrer is the cover star who had won worldwide praise for his portrayal of the eponymous swordsman-poet in Cyrano de Bergerac, a 1950 black-and-white movie based on the 1897 French play by Edmond Rostand. Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess also translated Rostand’s original play into English. A 1990 French film put Gérard Depardieu in the lead role.

>>A History of British Magazine Design by Anthony Quinn (May 2016, V&A Publishing)

Photojournalism and photomontage in the 1930s

December 2, 2015
Weekly Illustrated magazine pioneered photojournalism (3 March 1936)

Weekly Illustrated magazine pioneered photojournalism (3 March 1936)

The 1930s saw a revolution in photojournalism in British weekly magazines with German pioneers using Leica 35mm cameras. The leader of the trend was Weekly Illustrated, under the editorship of Stefan  Lorant, who had worked on Münchner Illustrierte Presse before being forced to flee Germany. In London, he confirmed his place as one of the most influential editors of the 20th century.

Lorant relaunched Clarion magazine for Odhams as the large format Weekly Illustrated in 1934, and went on to launch both Lilliput (1937) and Picture Post (1938). He turned to his old colleagues who had also left Nazi Germany, including  Felix Man and Kurt Hutton. They had rejected bulky plate cameras and flash guns in favour of Leicas and available light, a technique that produced much more natural-looking images. The techniques were taken up in the US, by Life two years later.

The cover of Weekly Illustrated above from 3 March 1936 is also notable for its use of photomontage, which was also developed in Germany, particularly through the work of the Dadaist John Heartfield. The magazine cover uses at least three photographs: Edward VIII, the liner and the shipyard workers. Behind the liner is the gigantic Titan crane at the Clydebank shipyard, which can still be seen at the site. Spot red has been used to colour the Queen Mary’s funnels and a tint of this for the faces and the hair on two of the men.

As with so many magazines at the time, Weekly Illustrated was printed using photogravure by Sun printers in Watford. It took over Passing Show in 1939, to become Illustrated and was the main competitor for Lorant’s Picture Post, which it outlived, closing in 1958.

>>Weekly magazines

>>A History of British Magazine Design by Anthony Quinn (May 2016)

 

Magculture’s book of magazines

November 21, 2015

Jeremy Leslie’s Independence, 12 a dozen different covers

Jeremy Leslie has published his own book at Magculture based on interviews he’s done with a dozen independent magazine makers. It reads like a who’s who of independent magazines with names such as Rob Orchard at Delayed Gratification, Anorak’s Cathy Olmedillas, John Walters at Eye and Stack’s Steve Watson.

Independence costs £15.99 and there are 12 different cover designs.

Magazine cover design – in search of the 3D effect

November 7, 2015
Picturegoer magazine cover design with 3D effect from 23 April 1953. Arlene Dahl is the film star model

Picturegoer magazine cover design with 3D effect from 25 April 1953. Arlene Dahl is the film star model

Nowadays, there are many technical strategies that can be used to give a three-dimensional effect to a magazine cover design, including holograms and lenticular stick-ons.

The first magazine hologram I’m aware of was one stuck on a Venture cover from Redwood Publishing in about 1985. Lenticular imagery has been around at least since publicity postcards for the 1968 film of Alistair Maclean’s Ice Station Zebra, and became popular on magazines in about 2001.

But before these, clever graphical tricks were the only viable approach – I’ve never seen a publisher try the red/green printing with plastic glasses on a cover, though it has been used freqently on inside pages since the 1950s from magazines such as Picture Post.

This cover design on movie weekly Picturegoer from 25 April 1953 is a good example. It’s a complex photomontage and is also self-referential with parts of 10 other covers shown as the background. The main photograph is of the hands holding a black and white publicity photograph of Arlene Dahl, described by IMDB as ‘one of the most beautiful actresses to have graced the screen during the postwar period’. The site lists no less than five of her films in 1953.

Note that the hands appear to be in colour. This is because the cover uses the second special colour for the title box as a tint to give a wash over the hands and a paler tint still over the background. The technique was common on gravure-printed weeklies in the 1950s.

All in all, an ambitious piece of work, though to my mind the title sitting over the photograph is a commercial compromise that destroys the overall visual logic – but then no publisher wants the title to be a subsiduary element when the magazine has to sell on a very competitive news-stand each week. However, as the Picturegoer magazine cover design below from 11 April 1953 shows, many issues did carry a much less prominent masthead.

Picturegoer from 11 April 1953 with a less prominent masthead

Picturegoer from 11 April 1953 with a less prominent masthead for a Kirk Douglas cover

Inside the Arlene Dahl issue of ‘The national film weekly’ from Odhams Press, the 3D theme continues with a review of Bwana Devil, described as Hollywood’s first full-length three-dimensional feature. The critic’s reaction will be familiar to many people who’ve seen any of the recent spate of 3D films (Gravity being the exception for me): ‘Picturegoers are bitterly disappointed in their introduction to Hollywood’s third dimension. They see a real danger in Hollywood’s giving them eye-straining technical tasters in place of sound, satisfying entertainment.’

>>Film magazines


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