Cover Stories: Thoughtfulness in design (13 Oct 2017)
by Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct) Let’s delve into great media design from South Africa and around the world:
- Online: Boat balances a nomadic lifestyle with remote working, and local culture; moving from city to city
- Local/print: iJusi showcases local vernacular photography from South Africa
- International/print: The New Yorker frames one day in a nation of guns
- International/print: The Tenth Magazine finds the ‘gay’ in technology, moving towards the future
- Iconic: ZigZag Rock Magazine mapped the history of rock, from folk to punk
- Local/print: ZigZag Surfing Magazine showcases a double-whammy Alley-Oop fest whilst the sun sets in J-Bay.
Zigzag (South Africa), #41.7, October 2017
A bold headline written with a felt-tip marker is emblazoned across the October 2017 issue of ZigZag magazine. The words, “Off the Charts”, are superimposed over a photograph of professional surfer, Filipe Toledo, as he performed an incredible Alley-Oop maneuver to open his account in round four of the 2017 Corona Open J-Bay surf event, held earlier this year. Nature certainly turned on its charm for this, allowing for the warm, contrasting, monochromatic grey, colour space to happen. Ordinarily, handwritten script fonts are one of the points on the graphic designer’s “things to avoid” list. But Studio Kronk pulls it off in stellar fashion, inclined more towards the brash hand-lettered, DIY aesthetic of early punk zines, rather than emulate the clichéd, cute script fonts so often used in wedding invites and food publications.
The New Yorker (US), 16 October 2017
Gun ownership is so prevalent in America, there are as many bullets as people in the country: a nation of guns. The current cover of The New Yorker is an ode to this fact, paying tribute to the tragic mass killing that occurred on 1 October in Las Vegas as 64-year-old, Stephen Paddock, pointed his rifle at a crowd attending a nearby music festival from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, and opened fire. He murdered 58 people, and injured 489. Illustrator David Plunkert commemorates the victims of this brutal massacre by inscribing the names of the 58 murdered men and women, and encasing them within the gravestone-come-coffin-like silhouettes of bullet shells. A chilling testament to one of the deadliest mass shootings in the history of the US.
iJusi (South Africa), #32, September/October 2017
Issue #32 of iJusi magazine focuses on vernacular South African photographs, sourced from the personal collection of founder and editor, Garth Walker. This issue has been curated using often obscure or eccentric historical occurrences, which at times may become incredibly odd. Consisting of original photographs acquired through over 20 years of collecting and sourced from dealers, found in markets and other places across the country, Walker’s selection of images here provides a compelling narrative about our country.
The cover image is an untitled photograph taken by Vijay Singh (circa 2005) of a young, engaged Zulu woman. Her beadwork, with symbolic colour usage, is indicative of the Maphumulo area of KwaZulu-Natal. An ‘amathikithi’ (“love letter”), made from beaded loops that contain a coded message, runs over her shoulder and down to her skirt, contrasted by her pristine, unused sneakers and plaid socks. All of this is a cosmetic gesture meant to signify the coming of an important occasion. Perhaps the most-peculiar elements in the picture are the R20 notes on the small table behind her — which seem to be random additions — supposedly to announce to the viewer that she has ‘money of her own’. See more of this issue at ijusi.com.
The Tenth Magazine (US), volume 4, The Technology Issue, 2017
Volume Four of The Tenth Magazine investigates the related themes of technology and the future, within the comparatively unchartered territory of black queer identity. Art direction speaks volumes here, about the pros and cons of technology, and how it is altering us as human beings socially and biologically, changing cultural dynamics, and transforming the planet. The often-ignored social implications of technology towards the future are far-reaching within different social groupings, contemporary tribes, and various sub-cultures. By appropriating retro operating-system graphics, the classic Mac OS interface, and juxtaposing with great photographic direction, this cover crafts an archetype of the present-past, future black and gay professional who works in technology, within a restricted area due the importance of the work being done; solving high-tech problems, innovative to the nth degree. Interestingly, the magazine thwarts its own identity in favour of the concept that drives the theme for the cover, which requires the authentic interface and its related navigational elements to be in place.
Boat (global/international), October 2017
As a roaming publication, by becoming culturally immersed and entrenched within the culture of each city it finds itself situated, Boat magazine can present raw journalism with integrity. Thanks to the absence of any geographic dependency, liberated by the internet, Boat floats around the world, going about its business through spirited interviews, gritty features, vernacular photography and local artwork, among other authentic literary elements. Essentially, Boat is a nomadic, independent travel and culture magazine that approaches the built environment with multiple perspectives in mind.
Supported by a well-considered website and editorial design, all done through UK-based She Was Only studio, the magazine’s content is always balanced and eclectic as it sets up shop in a different city every few weeks. Locals dictate what content goes into each issue in each respective city, broadcasting their stories to the world. In this way, stories are found that would not ordinarily be told, inspired by the knowledge, passion and secrets of the people who live in them and completely altering perceptions about the culture and life in each city. The design and creative direction of Boat’s online and print iterations speak into the pluralism, diversity, multiplicity and internationalism that it embraces and promotes.
ZigZag — The Rock Magazine (UK), issue 1, April 1969
The first issue of London-based rock music magazine, ZigZag, was published mid-April 1969. The magazine gained notoriety after the infamous British radio personality, John Peel, mentioned it on his pioneering rock show, Top Gear. The cover of #1 featured a grayscale photograph of preeminent British folk rock singer, Sandy Denny (lead singer of Fairport Convention). The non-commercial, subversive tonality of the publication was immediate. Founded by Pete Frame, ZigZig became known for its authentic, well-researched and expertly written interviews and articles that often introduced American songwriters to UK audiences. Zigzag was named after the Captain Beefheart song, “Zigzag Wanderer” (also referencing cigarette papers used to roll joints).
The underground scene during the ’70s was marked by the influence of pub rock, a precursor of punk, focusing on British bands such as Dr. Feelgood and The Stranglers. By the late ’70s, with Kris Needs as editor, the publication was dedicated solely to punk. The ’80s, under the editorial direction of Mick Mercer, saw ZigZag evolve with the rock movement into post-punk and early goth. The magazine stopped publication in 1986, after 140 issues had documented rock history and journalism.
Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct) is a designer, writer, and educator currently based in Cape Town, South Africa, working in the fields of communication design and digital media. He works from Gilgamesh, a small design studio, and is a senior lecturer in graphic design at Vega School in Cape Town. Connect on Pinterest and Instagram.
Cover Stories, formerly MagLove, is a regular slot deconstructing media cover design, both past and present.