Cover Stories: Thoughtfulness in design (6 Oct 2017)
by Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct) Let’s delve into great media design from South Africa and around the world:
- Golf Digest — local/print
- Mayday — international/online/print
- Speak — iconic
- The Afropolitan — local/print
- The California Sunday Magazine — international/print/online
- Wired — international/print
Golf Digest (South Africa), October 2017
Dynamism, movement, precision, focus, kinetic, energy; this is the language spoken by the October 2017 cover of Golf Digest South Africa. With hints of Italian and Russian futurism, particularly the work of Fortunato Depero, the vibrant use of typography here is effective and illustrative. It allows the spread to contain physics and dimension, filling nearly all the negative space available, while remaining flat, static and two-dimensional. The considered use of a complimentary colour palette, further reminding one of the futurists, is supported by a keen eye for composition and placement, and a key choice of font — that has just the right bearing when it comes to weight and scale — communicates speed, power and progress. Credit here to the creative direction of prolific Cape Town-based editorial designer, Mark Serra.
Wired (US), October 2017
Blade Runner is back, as declared in the most-elegant manner by the October 2017 cover of Wired magazine. The sequel to the 1982 cult sci-fi motion picture, Blade Runner 2049, is presented here with an arresting warm, saturation green, group portrait — the work of photography director, Anna Alexander, and creative director, David Moretti. Unencumbered by graphic clutter, thanks to a textbook use of the grid and a finessed monospace typeface, the scene includes actors Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, and the film’s director, Denis Villeneuve, accompanied by infamous auteur, and director of the original Blade Runner film, Ridley Scott. To any diehard fan, this cover is nothing less than awe-inspiring: a subtle hint at what this futurist sci-fi story can tell us about society today, suggesting an immanent dystopic future, and a foreboding post-human era.
The Afropolitan (South Africa), Issue 51, October 2017
The 51st issue of The Afropolitan, themed “Afropunk”, comes with a new editor, Kojo Baffoe. This lifestyle magazine embraces a broader cultural dynamic within urban spaces, modelled upon the notion of community and aiming for authenticity and originality. Emphasising a sub-theme of “collaboration”, this issue focuses on the collective power of various people working together in different ways, moving away from oft-quoted and over-used coin phrases to describe urban African culture, such as Afro-pop or Afro-Futurism.
The theme, Afropunk, implies hybridisation, a splice between a sense of being African and the sub-culture of punk rock while suggesting a metamorphosis from older forms of identification for urban culture in Africa. By merging the unadulterated rawness of being African with the expressive creativity of punk, the cover echoes a pluralist approach to different cultures and ideas; it promotes the idea of the “Afropolitan”, individuals who embrace people’s differences and accept all cultures and aren’t imprisoned by the confines of tradition but rather free to express themselves as free-thinking and empowered, no matter what creed they might be or to which clan their roots belong.
The California Sunday Magazine (US), October, 2017
The October 2017 edition of The California Sunday Magazine is tastefully crafted, sustaining a quiet aesthetic with minimal interference and communicating a strong message. It is the result of a collaboration between creative director, Leo Jung, and director of photography, Jaqueline Bates. This cover sets a similar tone to the 2012 Buckle up. Stay Alive print campaign created by Lg2 in Canada for Quebec Automobile Insurance Society, under the art direction of Jean Lafrenière and creative direction of Luc du Sault, which exhibits even greater sensitivity to light, colour, timbre and tonality.
This issue is a conversation about the political awakening of Silicon Valley, exploring the relationship between California’s pioneering technology-driven geographies and Donald Trump’s Washington. The magazine’s website, in particular, depicts the clash between the two: the archetypal computer geek is symbolised by a red tracksuit jacket; in stark comparison, the politician is portrayed as a slick Washington suit. Both images are succinctly connected by one icon: a pin of the American flag — a gentle reminder of American liberty and freedom.
This conversation poses many important questions. Notably, what happens when leaders in technology view the current system as broken? And why would a country be run like a business, where politicians and corporations treat societies and cultures as if they were startups, or some form of retail? Serious banter, quietly crafted, both visually and journalistically.
Mayday (US), Issue 1, September 2017
This, the first issue of Mayday magazine was released on 1 September 2017 in print and online. Independently published, Mayday is a biannual cultural magazine about the often extreme and uncertain realities that societies the world over have to deal with today. A rare combination of substance and surface that celebrates all that is the obscure and unorthodox, Mayday is the progeny of Trouble, an experimental studio based in Copenhagen, Denmark. The studio prides itself on its search for the next ‘new’ new, and anything out there today that remains unexplored.
Mayday is for non-conformists who critically engage with difficult ideas surrounding our unpredictable and erratic future, encompassing a broad cultural spectrum from art to technology. The magazines online presence is of particular interest, with its stark use of colour, animated contrast between typography and drawing, and its inventive use of parallax scrolling. Disruptive to a tee, Mayday declares that the future belongs to creativity.
Speak (US), Issues 5, 7, and 9, 1997–1998
Old-school print first published in 1995, Speak magazine had a bumpy start and initially struggled to find its niche, even employing the expertise of David Carson (for #2) in order to find direction. Eventually the magazine settled on a clear identity and direction by #10, under the art direction of Martin Venezky, speaking to the combined traditions of dada, futurism and the general grunge genre of the ’90s. Arguably, the best covers existed after the first of two relaunched logos, between #2 and #9, which were designed without advertising in mind and catering to an eclectic, pluralistic and diverse crowd.
To its predominantly youthful audience, Speak became one of the more-relevant sources for alternative culture. True to its name, the publication found its feet as a non-commercial, borderline brutish yet glossy quarterly which consisted of long-form interviews, fiction, essays and various features for audiences in search of reading that was provocative and critical. All the while, it represented the zeitgeist of the time, pushing digital typography into new directions. Despite its relevance, the publication came to an end in 2001.
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.