Cover Stories: Thoughtfulness in design (10 Nov 2017)
by Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct) Let’s delve into great media design from South Africa and around the world:
- International/print: Der Spiegel illustrates Donald Trump’s growing wave of political destruction
- Local/print: Financial Mail portrays Malusi Gigaba as a spectacularly tragic and flaccid, Frankensteinian mix between Scarface and Terminator
- Online: Kikk Festival — Invisible Narratives builds bridges between art, design, science and tech through modern storytelling
- Local/print: The Way Of US exposes the wealth of talent, style and substance that South Africa has to offer
- International/print: Tunica focuses on interesting combinations of creative disciplines and unorthodox ways of crisscrossing ideas and styles
- Iconic: Unknown Public gave access to creative music to the somewhat anonymous audio culture of the ’90s
Financial Mail (South Africa), 2–8 November 2017
Not much more needs to be said about the cover for this issue of Financial Mail; it pretty much speaks for itself. Depicted is SA’s latest minister of finance, Malusi Gigaba, holding an automatic rifle (who, aside from his current portfolio, is probably not qualified to hold a gun either) and shooting bubbles, Scarface-style. The careless and carefree posture and mannerism suggests that the SA public might have to say goodbye to any hopes left for the country’s credit rating, gross domestic product, foreign direct investment, employment rate; the list flaccidly goes on.
On a positive note, nice Photoshop work.
Der Spiegel (Germany), 4 November 2017
A German headline that states, “Washington one year later”, accompanied by a graphic depiction of Donald Trump which references Hokusai’s famous woodblock print “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”, sums up many sentiments surrounding the US president’s five-leg tour of Asia, which includes visits to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Instead of Mount Fuji in the background, with Kanagawa prefecture under threat from natural disaster, Cuban illustrator, Edel Rodriguez — known for his politically charged, anti-totalitarian illustrations of Trump — depicts Washington already in the recession of water just before the onslaught of the arriving tsunami. A dim picture of America already in the riptide of a dangerous political sea current, awaiting the crash, is painted.
The Way of US (South Africa), Summer Issue, 2017
One of the most stylish ‘mugshots’ you will see — art directed succinctly with a sensual palette, choice fashion, and crisp photography — the summer 2017 issue of The Way of US (TWoU) magazine, published by Superbalist, sports duel covers, recto and verso. One supports Superbalist’s male catalogue, while the other caters to its female fashion audience. And, in between all this fashion, sprinklings of intriguing content and engaging literature. Notably, Nakhane Touré features as the custodian for the male cover of this issue; he is known for the furor surrounding his acting role in the much spoken-about film “The Wound”. Other than his acting ability, which many back for an Oscar next year, he is a musician famous for his two albums, “brave confusion” and “The Laughing Son”, and he is the author of Piggy Boy’s Blues; one talented cat to say the least. Touré’s female counterpart for this cover is none other than rapper and television personality, Nomuzi Mabena. Together, they give new meaning to the discursive marriage between style and substance, showing that the future lies in crossing cultural boundaries and defining new forms of expression while remaining critically informed about older, more-established narratives.
Tunica (US), no.6, 2017
Looking like some form of Klingon script from a classic episode of Star Trek, the four covers produced for issue no.6 of Tunica magazine are so bad that they are actually good. Based in New York, Tunica is a repository for various cultural happenings, always with a strong sense of internationalism in mind. First published in 2012, it’s a curatorial project that is based on collaboration and supports talent from an array of different disciplines. The aim? To provide an alternative to mainstream, high-brow art and design, acting as a catalyst, a launchpad, for independent talent from across the globe. Focus is placed on interesting combinations of different disciplines, and unorthodox ways of crisscrossing ideas and styles. Contributors stem from a variety of creative backgrounds, including art, illustration, and photography, supported by layered interviews, features, and articles. Proof that bad can be good, low can be high, making binaries and oppositions obsolete.
Kikk Festival — Invisible Narratives (Belgium), November, 2017
Founded in 2011, KIKK festival is a non-profit association that aims to build bridges between art, design, science and technology through the creation of a variety of educational projects, alongside a showcase of different creative projects. Based in Belgium, KIKK emphasises digital creative culture and is organised annually in favour of openness, exchange and discovery. The festival attracts an international audience, with creative types from across the globe often working together, in a collaborative and cross-disciplinary spirit, to explore and experiment with a variety of uses for new technologies in order to find solutions for the challenges of the world currently.
Although not a magazine or publication per se, the foundations of KIKK are based upon modern storytellers, particularly in relation to this year’s theme, “Invisible Narratives”, marking the 7th edition of the organisation. The invisible and the unseen are told through tales using new media and other technologies, detailing how the networks and systems we use in our current, often-unpredictable, world, and framing the fate of human beings in this context, which is increasingly being determined by the machines. Keeping true to its digital foundations, KIKK’s website is slick, with interactive and responsive elements seamlessly integrated with well-crafted art direction, typography and illustration.
Unknown Public (US), various, 1992 — 2008
In a world where music, either underground or mainstream, is easily available (thanks to the internet), it seems odd that at one time there was a space for niche publications to provide access to music that was difficult to find. Teetering on the margins of the mainstream and the avant-garde, Unknown Public (UP) was one such publication: a sonic periodical that sought to make connections across a wide range of musical genres. This quarterly magazine of “creative music”, or “audio journal”, recalls Marcel Duchamp’s “Boîte-en-valise” (gallery in a box) and George Maciunas’ “Fluxkits”, and derived its name from a Guardian interview with French post-war, experimental classical composer, Pierre Boulez, who described the journal’s readership as a “listenership”.
The first issue, themed “Points of Departure”, was published in 1992. Being London-based, this made UP a clear contemporary to Neville Brody and Jon Wozencroft’s experimental typography publication, Fuse. Each issue of UP provided rare bits of information, imagery and difficult-to-come-by music. The first two editions were packaged in a box accompanied by printed material, but later issues took the form of hardcover books packaged and boxed and always included some means to disseminate music, such as CDs, DATs, and MiniDiscs. Experimental in format and catering to the more independent-sensibility, non-conformist, UP developed to include alternative content and experimental design elements, such as printed foldouts and postcards, and loose leaflets and expressive typography, with essays, notes and biographical details incorporated, all coherent and well-resolved.
UP was co-founded by John Walter, the current editor of The Eye magazine, alongside Laurence Aston. Designed mostly by John Warwicker, founder of Tomato design studio, guest designers such Jonathan Barnbrook and Stuart Bailey were a common feature. Barnbrook’s contribution to the 12th edition of UP, themed “Talking Drums,” is noteworthy here, with layout and spreads that resemble Stéphane Mallarmé’s typographic experiments, Guillaume Apollinaire’s ‘Calligrammes’, and Louise Fili’s famous colophons; only in a more-provocative way.
All in all, UP was about alternative press: a means to get one’s hands on less-commercial material that wasn’t easy to find and providing relevant journalism about various kinds of obscure and unorthodox music, from contemporary jazz to experimental electronic music.
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.