Tracing the Circuitous Route of Publication Design

By Nelson, Roy Paul | Communication World, May-June 1990 | Go to article overview

Tracing the Circuitous Route of Publication Design


Nelson, Roy Paul, Communication World


Two technological advances and a competing medium greatly altered the appearance of magazines after World War II, and, at the beginning of the 1990s, their impact continues to be felt. The medium, of course, is television, and to fight off its impact, magazines, including company and organizational magazines, have given more of their space over to art, shortened their articles, and enlivened their design.

While almost every magazine in every category adjusted to the television age and the short attention spans it fostered, The New Yorker moved blithely through the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s with its un-art-directed look, providing visual relief only through occasional spot illustrations and its celebrated gag cartoons (which the magazine has always called, simply, "drawings") and, of course, its collectible covers unmarred by cover lines or blurbs. Delighted to be able to stand out so dramatically from editorial matter, advertisers provided the only design flair and color. While the magazine, under new ownership, used some editorial color and dressed the front-of-the-book listings with innovative drawings or entertainers, it has nevertheless lost some of its luster from its Harold Ross and William Shawn days. As Hendrick Hertzberg observes in Gannett Center Journal, "...The New Yorker is no longer a kind of secular religion, as it once was. It is merely a magazine."

Offset Printing and Computers Changed Magazines

The technical advances that changed the look of magazines were offset lithography and the computer. Art directors welcomed offset lithography because, through pasteups, they enjoyed absolute control of placement, something not possible with letterpress. The pamphleteers of the 1960s carried offset's flexibility to its extremes, and some of what they did with type, art, and design influenced the establishment magazines.

Art directors less readily accepted the computer because they didn't want to abandon traditional tools that had served them well and because so much of what they saw coming from computers was in the form of design cliches: inevitable shadow boxes, excessive textures, intrusive geometric shapes, showboat typography. Gradually, art directors and designers took over from computer freaks, and the design and even the typography improved with these machines. Now it is the rare art director who doesn't do some work with a Mac or IBM PC if not a main-frame computer.

The art movements of the times, along with fashion, also affected the design of magazines. In their recently published Graphic Style (Abrams, New York), Steven Heller and Seymour Chwast catalog the various movements and show how they have affected graphic design in this century.

Designer Greg Paul sees magazine design now as having entered a postmodern period, citing Metropolitan Home, Savvy, New York, and Spy as examples. "In the tradition established by postmodern architects, the building materials are up-to-the-minute, but the facade is often decorated with antique design flourishes." Postmodern design, he notes in Magazine Design & Production, "substitutes anachronistic combinations of nostalgic design elements for the more formal, modern design elements."

Formats that magazines, newspapers, and books developed over the years lost some of their distinctions in the 1970s and 1980s as each medium borrowed from the other. The newsletter became a popular format, in some cases incorporating itself into magazines to help them departmentalize. In the 1980s, the frequent catalogs issued by Lands' End looked more and more like magazines, sometimes with bylined articles carried up front. The various stores issuing catalogs develop unique graphic styles. L. L. Bean's catalogs enjoyed such familiarity that a book publisher brought out a couple of parody versions. The first of this genre, perhaps, was the Whole Earth Catalog published in the early '70s.

Many Magazines of the '70s Died Looking Good

The past two decades brought a restlessness to magazines that encouraged a variety of design approaches. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Tracing the Circuitous Route of Publication Design
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.