What’s driving the creative explosion in new print magazines? Who are the creative players? What’s the best tablet mags? Jeremy Leslie’s new book The Modern Magazine offers a visually rich analysis of the state of play in magazine world
As editor of Magculture the industry go-to blog in editorial design, Jeremy Leslie has championed and tracked the new magazine culture since 2006. A magazine designer himself, he Art Directed Blitz in the 1980s, Time Out, and as Creative Director helped develop the innovative Carlos magazine for Virgin Atlantic (Art Directed by Warren Jackson). Most of all, he has a taste and passion for the sheer pleasure delivered by the magazine format. Jeremy Leslie is a magazine connoisseur.
His new book, The Modern Magazine, Visual Journalism In The Digital Era, showcases the burst of energy currently around magazine: from the playful Fantastic Man;
to the grungy Photoshoporama of Super Super;
to the charming covers of Oh Comely, with it’s combination of simple portraits and useful handwritten coverlines. Imagine Little Women author Louisa May Alcott as a 21st Century indie-mag Art Director, the observational Oh Comely is filled with creative inspiration, blending the whimsical and the practically useful in a wholly original vision.
The Modern Magazine, charts the renaissance in magazines over the last few years, as it not only survived the gloomy predictions of media experts and commentators, but flowered. The book showcases the inventions and experimentation of contemporary Editors Designers and Art Directors, such as: Josh Tyrangiel (E)/Richard Turley (AD) at Bloomberg BusinessWeek;
Editor Cathy Olmedillas/(AD) Rob Lowe at funky children’s magazine Anorak;
and iPad-photo-mag pioneer Tim Moore who edits, designs and codes Letter To Jane.
Leslie interviews key players such as Tim Moore, Wired magazine’s Scott Daditch and Francesco Franchi, Creative Director of IL a monthly supplement to an Italian Financial newspaper whose imagery made a name among bloggers around the web for its bold type and info-graphics. Leslie traces part of its visual heritage to striking early 20th Century Italian Futurist publications.
Given the currency of the book’s publication date, you could assume Leslie was starting to gather material around the time Information Design became part of the mainstream conversation (ok, not mainstream-mainstream, BBC nightly news programs, Wired magazine). But the main feature of this book is the analytic eye of the author, as he emphasizes in this case, editorially driven info-graphics that have something to say, that tickles readers, that makes them smile and think such as New York magazine’s ‘Approval Matrix’ – subtitled “Our deliberately oversimplified guide to who falls where on our taste hierarchies.” It’s graphic design’s version of caricature.
The author explores how new technologies drove magazine innovation, whether through online distribution which freed covers from the chaos of coverlines, or Wallpaper* magazine’s special issue where readers were able to construct their own personalized cover via a set of elements on the magazine’s website.
Leslie argues we are in living in a Golden Age of magazines and his book highlights a Golden Age of Art Direction and Design, where pioneering designers explore a culture driven by pictures, where imagery is our instinctive way sharing and communicating
The magazines he curates in The Modern Magazine are a laboratory for a new kind of visual thinking and expression. Leslie suggests this Golden Age is defined by a closer dynamic relationship between Editor and Art Director, a visual journalism with new arrangements of pictures, type and text. It’s Editor and Art Director as Leiber and Stoller or Marr and Morrissey. Josh Tyrangiel and Richard Turley as Hal David and Burt Bacharach, the best magazines in his book have an ease and sophistication of text and image.
The trick the author has managed to pull-off with The Modern Magazine, just like the magazines he features, is to produce a seriously good-looking publication driven by ideas.
The Modern Magazine, Visual Journalism In The Digital Era, by Jeremy Leslie is published by Laurence King at £28
Check out the full roster of speakers for the October 16 Conference The Modern Magazine at Central Saint Martin’s London