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Magazines


04.17.14: Rick Poynor

The Conceptual Advertising of J.G. Ballard
J.G. Ballard’s conceptual ads anticipated the emergence of culture jamming, subvertising, design fiction and speculative design.
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04.08.14: Alexandra Lange

Lucia Eames, 1930-2014
An appreciation of Lucia Eames (1930-2014).
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12.30.13: Alexandra Lange

Year of the Women
A year-end wrap-up of my favorite stories. The common theme? Women and the making of design.
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12.06.13: Rick Poynor

Martin Sharp: From Satire to Psychedelia
The late Martin Sharp was a visual innovator whose work erased artificial distinctions between applied image-making and fine art.
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10.03.13: Alexandra Lange

Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer, Freelancer
One of the incidental pleasures of Judith Major’s new book on pioneering architecture critic Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer is the glimpse it gives into the life of a cultural journalist at the turn of the past century.
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04.30.13: Owen Edwards

The 99 Factor: A Man About Town & Country
Owen Edwards reminisces about Frank Zachary, former editor-in-chief of Town & Country magazine.
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04.08.13: Rick Poynor

The Practical Virtue of Works That Work
Works That Work magazine reclaims the word “creativity” from the stultifying embrace of branding culture and design thinking.
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02.17.13: Alexandra Lange

Patterns of Houston
How do you critique the urbanism of Houston? Look for patterns.
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12.20.12: Rob Walker

What Does 'The Cover of Time' Mean?
The cover of Time Magazine may not speak with authority in the nonstop news cycle. But what does?
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12.19.12: Alexandra Lange

Bad Taste True Confessions: Erté
True confessions about my own bad taste. I loved Erté. Did you?
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12.03.12: Rob Walker

The Latest In Journo-Comics
The New tablet magazine Symbolia debuts, a worthy additoin to today's vibrant nonfiction comics scene.
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11.12.12: Leonard Koren

Making WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing
An except from Making WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing by Leonard Koren.
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10.31.12: Alexandra Lange

Dot Supreme
On the enduring power of the simplest shape, from corporations to children’s books.
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08.28.12: Owen Edwards

Homage to Helen Gurley Brown
Owen Edwards remembers Helen Gurley Brown.
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08.09.12: Rick Poynor

Sending Signals about Political Graphics
Issue two of Signal, a journal about the visual languages used around the world to support political protest.
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06.18.12: Rick Poynor

Updating the Maps of Graphic Design History
Graphic Design: History in the Writing is a heartening sign that graphic design history is attracting a new generation.
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04.19.12: Rick Poynor

Phil Sayer, Designer of Photo-Portraits
Phil Sayer’s photographic portraits for Blueprint gave the magazine great visual impact and presence.
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03.02.12: Rick Poynor

Motif Magazine: The World Made Visible
Motif magazine, founded in 1958, anticipated a new way of seeing, documenting and appreciating the “visible world.”
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01.27.12: Rick Poynor

In Response to An Anatomy of Uncriticism
Alexandra Lange’s article in Print about the sacred cows of graphic design sidesteps the issue it raises.
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12.11.11: Rick Poynor

Another Design Voice Falls Silent
As design criticism takes off as a branch of academic study, design publications such as Grafik keep closing.
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12.04.11: John Foster

Accidental Mysteries, 12.04.11
Welcome to Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities set aside for your perusal and enlightenment.
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09.19.11: Alexandra Lange

What the Cooper-Hewitt Needs: More Design, Less Talk
My six suggestions for how to fix the National Design Museum.
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09.19.11: Alice Twemlow

Remembering Richard Hamilton as Design Critic
Alice Twemlow remembers Richard Hamilton, artist and design writer.
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07.13.11: Rick Poynor

The House That Design Journalism Built
Printed design magazines continue to fail and close. Where does that leave design writing and criticism?
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06.01.11: Rick Poynor

On My Shelf: Stefan Lorant's Lilliput
Stefan Lorant’s use of photos in pairs could be wry, funny, bizarre, whimsical, satirical and not always kind.
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04.19.11: Alexandra Lange

City Beautiful of Kazakhstan
Why is Norman Foster the go-to guy for new capitals?
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04.12.11: Rick Poynor

Stewart Mackinnon: Ruptured and Remade
Why, at the height of his early success, did a brilliant British illustrator decide to walk away and what happened next?
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02.17.11: Alexandra Lange

I Was an Unhappy Hipster
In a renovation by an architect, for a critic, the bookshelves can be a battleground.
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02.10.11: Rick Poynor

A Journal with No Fear of Flying
The Drawbridge’s change of visual direction is one of the most dramatic ever ventured by a literary magazine.
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01.03.11: Alexandra Lange

From the Cabat to the City
Is Bottega Veneta's Tomas Maier an industrial designer trapped in the fashion world?
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12.15.10: Mark Lamster

British Incursion
Stirling, Foster, and a new association with the Architectural Review.
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12.01.10: Mark Lamster

The Ugliest Object I Have Ever Owned
What's the ugliest object you've ever owned (and loved)?
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11.22.10: Rick Poynor

Rethinking Conceptual Type Design
In Copenhagen last week, the organizers of “Conceptual Type — Type Led by Ideas” posed the question: “Where are the idealistic fonts, the fonts that are frontiers of new belief?”
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11.05.10: Rick Poynor

Design Writing from Down Under
A new issue of The National Grid arrives in the mail. You’ve never seen it? You are missing a treat.
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10.21.10: Andrew Blauvelt

Designer Finds History, Publishes Book
Andrew Blauvelt takes stock of the graphic design history movement that began in the 1980s.
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09.15.10: Michael Bierut

Dot Zero
A look inside little-known design publication Dot Zero, the house organ of pioneering design consultancy Unimark, featuring a slide show and an interview with its designer, Massimo Vignelli.
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09.15.10: Steven Heller

Vignelli’s Herald (or Heralding Vignelli)
Vignelli Celebration: Steven Heller remembers the Herald.
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09.08.10: Alexandra Lange

In Dwell: Hands Off the Icons
In the October 2010 issue of Dwell, which celebrates the magazine’s tenth anniversary by revisiting its own (generally happy) homeowners, I offer the following Argument.
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07.23.10: William H. Helfand

Ridendo
A slideshow comprised of covers from Ridendo a magazine distributed to French physicians.
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07.01.10: Ernest Beck

Edward Koren in Retrospect
Essay on The New Yorker cartoonist Edward Koren.
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06.08.10: Mark Lamster

Walk the Walk, Take the Design
A few years ago I did an interview with ESPN magazine and was forced to subscribe to read the online version.
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05.27.10: Alexandra Lange

The Plastics
This month’s Vogue, which had several enraging features, is not yet fully online except for Blake Lively, bathing suits, clear plastic.
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05.14.10: Mark Lamster

SOM: They're #1
What is the top architectural firm in the United States? The friendly staff at Architect magazine established a set of criteria, surveyed the profession and crunched the numbers.
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01.12.10: Michael Bierut

Designing the Unthinkable
For more than fifty years, there have been arguments against nuclear proliferation. The Doomsday Clock translates all the arguments to a simple visual analogy.
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01.07.10: Julie Lasky

I.D.'s Executioners
Julie Lasky, shares her experience at ID magazine.
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12.18.09: Mark Lamster

Good Night Old Friend: ID Magazine Closes After 55 Years
After 55 years, ID Magazine, the grand dame of American design publishing, has shuttered. It's a terrible blow to the design world, and especially to those of us in the extended ID family — I was a contributing editor, and wrote for the the magazine for many years.
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11.22.09: Alexandra Lange

Another New York
Every time I get an issue of New York Magazine lately I ask myself: is Adam Moss turning it into a men’s magazine?
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10.28.09: Alexandra Lange

More Hell (Beige Edition)
I thought the Kelly Wearstler fan-fest was over last month, when both Vogue and the New Yorker treated her to long profiles.
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10.21.09: Alexandra Lange

Houses of the Future
Excellent article on the various single-family housing initiatives going on now in New Orleans.
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10.14.09: Steven Heller

Ramparts: Agent of Change
Ramparts magazine has been dead for almost two decades, but to look back at it, it stands out as one to remember.
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10.01.09: Alexandra Lange

Cutting Remarks
I'm not so sure that Lonny, the online-only magazine from the former editors of Domino, is such a good thing.
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09.24.09: Alexandra Lange

My Idea of Hell
There is no upside in criticizing Kelly Wearstler, since her press machine just rolls on, as she changes outfits hourly and houses annually.
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07.06.09: Steven Heller

When Satire Was More Than Funny
In 1901, Samuel Schwarz founded a satiric visual weekly, titled L’Assiette au Beurre, expressly poised to attack the functionaries who made their fortunes off the sweat of the citizenry.
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07.01.09: Alexandra Lange

Pre-Blog Work
Here are links to writing published before I began this blog in June 2009.
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03.17.09: Sarah Couto

The Year Playboy Died
It is often forgotten that the rabbit figure depicted on the early covers of Playboy was very much male, as seen in the January 1954 edition of the magazine. Typically he was an unbridled man, out and about, in good company. The rabbit is first shown in the guise of a woman, upon the opening of the Playboy Club in 1960.
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03.07.09: Mark Lamster

Seattle PI: RIP
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was founded 146 years ago, when that city was an industrial backwater on Elliot Bay, a timber town with more logs than people.
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12.03.08: Steven Heller

My Dada
Way back in 1965, as a fifteen years old, I was an early EVOtee. I had stumbled upon one of the first issues at a newsstand. The cover, which I remember vividly, had a photo collage of a serpent emerging from battle fatigues worn by America's commanding general in Vietnam, William Westmoreland. Haunting is not a strong enough word to describe the impact that this had on a teen just a year or two out of Valley Forge Military Academy, where, surprisingly, I had learned about the military impossibility of winning the war.
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11.14.08: Steven Heller

History of Aggressive Design Magazines
Graphic design evolved during the late nineteenth century from a sideline of the printing industry into an autonomous field with its own lore, icons and personalities. The missing link in this evolutionary process is trade magazines. These magazines did not just reflexively report the current trends instead some aggressively codified key methods and mannerisms that in turn defined a profession.
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09.23.08: Steven Heller

Go West, Young Art Director
When veteran magazine art directors get together to reminisce about the glory years, one title always gets mentioned: West. This storied weekly supplement of the Los Angeles Times, art directed by Mike Salisbury, was a masterwork of design erudition.
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07.17.08: Paula Scher

It's How You Said It
Paula Scher: "The problem with the New Yorker's controversial Obama cover is not that it's dangerous and tasteless. The problem is that it isn’t dangerous or tasteless enough."
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07.02.08: Steven Heller

Vanity Fair Type: 1930 Style

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04.22.08: Adam Harrison Levy

The Passion of George Lois
How adman George Lois chronicled the sixties with his cover designs for Esquire magazine, with a peek behind the scenes at the legendary famous Muhammad-Ali-as-St. Sebastian photoshoot.
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04.10.08: Steven Heller

Underground Mainstream
Today, designers for mainstream advertising companies, weaned on alternative approaches, have folded the underground into the mainstream and called it cool.
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02.14.08: Jessica Helfand

Animal Magnetism
Magazines are the sole industry in which you cannot help but judge a book by its cover.
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01.16.08: Andrew Blauvelt

The Work of Task
The presence of Task asks, How do you make a magazine for the post-critical, post-movement moment of contemporary graphic design?
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10.06.07: William Drenttel

A Plea to The New York Times: Index Your Art
Why does the art that adds so much to the texts published in The New York Times disappear? Why cannot The New York Times simply index the art that it publishes, at least leaving the bibliographic tracings of the work in their newspaper?
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07.07.07: Richard Turley

Off the Grid
When you abandon most of the rules, how do you define a mistake? How to art direct a newspaper from the middle of the muddy Glastonbury music festival.
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02.26.07: Steven Heller

The Other Monocle
Let's look back to another, virtually forgotten but decidedly important, magazine with the very same name — one that published under the motto, "In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king." Monocle.
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02.05.07: Adrian Shaughnessy

"I Sold My Soul And I Love It"
The current issue of Creative Review is "guest edited" by hip British advertising agency Mother. The theme, suggested by Mother, is I Sold My Soul And I Love It — a vastly contradictory statement, but one that invites debate over what it means to work in visual communication."
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09.19.06: DJ Stout

Remembering Ann Richards
To create the famous Texas Monthly cover of Governor Ann Richards astride a Harley, art director DJ Stout used a body double. "For many years, I would run into Ann Richards at my favorite Mexican food lunch spot in downtown Austin and she would always thank me for giving her such a 'sexy body.'"
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07.17.06: Michael Bierut

Where the Happy People Go
The ferociously positive letters column in Architectural Digest magazine demonstrates that design can make people almost unnervingly happy.
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06.08.06: Lawrence Weschler

Koppel to Cooper: Cool, Cooler, Cold
Hey, maybe that's the ticket for McSweeney's: Put some bigtime sexy celebrity on the cover, somebody huge and charismatic and irresistible, somebody like, you know...Ted Koppel! What then to make of this month's cover of Vanity Fair? The fact that the editors there, in offering Anderson Cooper up as the studmuffin du mois, may be an occasion for some serious concern.
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06.04.06: Michael Bierut

The Road to Hell: Now Paved with Innovation?
A new magazine from Business Week on design and innovation was created through an unpaid competition. If this is innovation, to hell with it.
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03.30.06: Michael Bierut

Variations on a Theme: New York's High Priorities
A half-page weekly feature in New York magazine has become a showcase for some of the world's best graphic designers.
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01.15.06: Michael Bierut

In Praise of Slow Design
Is there a such a thing as slow graphic design? A look at 80 years of barely perceptible design changes at The New Yorker.
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11.27.05: Lorraine Wild

Think Regional, Act Annual
Flying from New York to Los Angeles last week, I spent the long hours at 35,000 feet doing something I had not done in years: I read the Print Magazine's "2005 Regional Design Annual" cover to cover. Here are some of the things I learned:
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11.10.05: Rick Poynor

Emigre: An Ending
Issue 69 of Emigre will be the last. In its heyday, it was the most consistently interesting design publication produced by anyone, anywhere. By 1990, it was one of those magazines you simply had to get hold of and read straight away.
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08.16.05: Michael Bierut

Every New Yorker is a Target
The latest New Yorker magazine has only one advertiser: Target. The effect is disorienting.
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07.01.05: Rick Poynor

We Are All Editors Now. Or Are We?
Many designers aspire to be editors. But being an editor is not simply about choosing some things you like and throwing them together. Editing is about deep engagement with content and the construction of meaning.
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06.28.05: Michael Bierut

The Obvious, Shunned by So Many, Is Successfully Avoided Once Again
Does anyone devote as much energy to avoiding simple, sensible solutions as the modern graphic designer? Publications of designers' own work demonstrate what effort they go through to needlessly complicate what might be simple solutions.
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04.18.05: Michael Bierut

The Supersized, Temporarily Impossible World of Bruce McCall
Illustrator Bruce McCall's vision of an exhuberant, overscale America is evoked by the opening of a new McDonald's in Chicago.
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03.21.05: Rick Poynor

Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot
Dot Dot Dot is the most stimulating and original visual culture magazine produced by designers since Emigre's heyday in the late 1980s to the mid-1990s.
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01.23.05: Momus

The Vice Design Issue
The Vice Design Issue is not an anti-design tract, but the championing of an aesthetic that's already quite well-established, already wowing museum curators - a casual, trashy, porno-party style that celebrates tack, lo-tech and the good old bohemian values of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
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01.09.05: Rick Poynor

The I.D. Forty: What Are Lists For?
How do we measure one kind of achievement in design against another to arrive at a ranking? The truth is we can’t. The real purpose of I.D.’s list was to underscore the magazine’s position as selector and taste-maker.
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07.07.04: William Drenttel

Posted Without Comment

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05.29.04: Michael Bierut

McSweeney's No. 13 and the Revenge of the Nerds
McSweeney's No. 13, published by Dave Eggers and guest edited by Chris Ware, is a masterwork of publication design and an invaluable survey of today's best comic artists and graphic novelists.
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02.18.04: Michael Bierut

The Final Decline and Total Collapse of the American Magazine Cover
Comparing the magazine covers of today to those created for Esquire magazine in the 1960s by George Lois leads to only one conclusion: today's magazine ideal magazine cover is enticing, not arresting, aiming not for shock, but for seduction. And it stinks.
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01.05.04: Michael Bierut

The Forgotten Design Legacy of the National Lampoon
The rerelease of the National Lampoon's ersatz and hilarious "1964 C. Estes Kefauver Memorial High School Yearbook" is a reminder that the magazine's art directors, Michael Gross and David Kaestle, anticipated our profession's obsession with vernacular graphic languages by almost fifteen years.
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12.11.03: Rick Poynor

Adbusters in Anarchy
Adbusters’ once orderly pages are in a state of heaving agitation. The magazine seems to be seduced by the coolness of design as a gesture, even though this is part of the surface-fixated postmodernism it deplores.
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11.03.03: Jessica Helfand

Color Me Kurt
Having seen Schwarzenegger as a black man before he was elected Governor, one can only imagine what's next for Colors under Kurt Andersen.
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11.02.03: Rick Poynor

It's a Man's World
Adam Parfrey’s book shows hundreds of men’s magazine covers from the 1950s painted by artists who specialized in depictions of tough guys abusing terrified women. Have we outgrown this kind of thing? Heck no.
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