Cover Stories: Thoughtfulness in design (29 Mar 2018)
by Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct) Let’s delve into great media design from South Africa and around the world:
- International/print: British Journal of Photography focuses on the theme of community and how photography is a collaboration between photographers and their subjects
- Local/print: House and Leisure is inspired by timeless Delftware to portray this month’s kitchen theme
- Online: The I Am Women Project promotes young female voices using the power of community
- International/print: Bloomberg Businessweek, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin and The Economist uses the humble hand cursor icon to conceptually illustrate Facebook’s trustworthiness crisis
- Iconic: S.M.S. (Shit Must Stop) altered the traditional journey of the artwork from studio to gallery, and blurred the roles of artist, editor and curator.
- Local/print: The Lake turns the spectacle into a positive vision for the future of queer identity
House and Leisure (South Africa), Kitchen Issue, April 2018
The latest issue of House and Leisure makes a subtle reference to classic Dutch Delft ceramic ware, with the use of iconic Delft Blue providing a decent amount of shelf appeal. Delft was an attempt to mimic 14th century Chinese Ming porcelain. Developed in the Netherlands during the 16th century, the pottery became extremely fashionable in Europe, produced mostly in the form of plates, ornaments and tiles. The affect was achieved using tin-glazed earthenware, and an application of similar floral decorative elements to that of the original Chinese porcelain.
The cover doesn’t emulate the subject matter of traditional Delft but rather implies a narrative surrounding the theme of the magazine, The Kitchen Issue. Despite Delft being seen in certain cultural circles as a kind of kitsch, it is always good to see a publication flex its aesthetic taste muscles like this.
Bloomberg Businessweek (US), 26 March 2018
Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin (Germany), no. 12, 23 March 2018
The Economist (US), 24-30 March 2018
Perceptions about Facebook aren’t good at present after reports that a company associated with US president Donald Trump suspiciously sourced the personal information of about 50m Facebook users, which influenced the 2016 campaign to win the highest seat of power in the US. The result? Facebook shares have dwindled by 9% as rampant rumors about fake news and propaganda have begun to make many feel that Facebook is not trustworthy and in a major slump. The social media giant, the eighth-largest listed company in the world, seems to be in total denial about this potential reputational nightmare, which has been reflected upon by many recent magazine covers, notably Bloomberg Businessweek (US), Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin (Germany) and The Economist (US). The first two publications have both used a hand cursor icon in a symbolic manner to suggest that many people will likely be closing their Facebook accounts because of this supposed meltdown.
The Lake (South Africa), issue 19, 2018
Themed “Spectacle”, #19 of The Lake magazine showcases local experimental electronic music artist, Angel-Ho, who has built a substantial following by deconstructing notions of classism and gender politics from the perspective of queer identity. Insistent on being referred to in the plural as “their instead of “he” or “she”, glamour is a noun and fashion is a verb as Angel-Ho’s career evolves, especially as their debut album is about to be released on the prestigious record label, Hyperdub, responsible for producing some of the most-influential electronic music albums of all time, including Burial’s “Burial” and “Untrue”. Through music and performance, Angelo-Ho presents queer identity in a whole new light, building a positive foundation for queer and trans youths, and developing a viable heritage towards the future where spectacle should no doubt be understood as positive.
British Journal of Photography (UK), The Community Issue, #7869, 2018
The British Journal of Photography (BJP) is a monthly that has been in print since the birth of the medium during the mid-1800s. The magazine focuses on contemporary photography across the globe, with an emphasis on emerging talent. The March 2018 issue is themed The Community Issue; it is focused in on various forms of collaboration within the medium, particularly projects that emphasise the dialogue between photographers and their subjects. The cover image is by American photographer, Carolyn Drake, whose work dissects the way our perception of reality is constructed and edited throughout history, and how photography may disrupt engineered narratives.
The I Am Woman Project (US), March 2018
Founded in 2016 by cultural feminist, DJ, producer and music executive, Kitty Cash, The I Am Woman Project (IAWP) is a community of sorts, focused on uplifting and bolstering women by sharing experiences and stories that celebrate womanhood. The mission here is to create a bustling creative community comprising young and hungry female talent and provide a discursive platform for women to establish their respective creative voices. The website sports a well-resolved identity system that speaks in a relatable tone of voice, with a particularly fresh logo, supported by print-like web layout with an inventive mix of horizontal and vertical navigation. A textbook mix of great graphic design, typography, art direction, web design and relevant storytelling.
S.M.S. (Shit Must Stop) (US), 1968
Short-lived and published as a bi-weekly February–December 1968, S.M.S. (Shit Must Stop) was a series of curated portfolios edited by surrealist artists William Copley and Dimitri Petrov. Relying on his art industry connections, Copley packaged S.M.S as a tactile, interactive, multipart portfolio reminiscent of George Maciunas’ Fluxus “Fluxkits” and Dadaist Marcel Duchamp’s “Boîte-en-valise” (gallery in a box). Consisting of various printed works, these portfolios encompassed a large variety of different influences, notably dadaism, surrealism, neo-dada and aspects of pop art, all presented using a mix of drawings photography, sound and literature.
S.M.S.’s mission was not dissimilar to that of Fluxus: anti-authoritarian and innately against the influence of galleries and other institutions to declare what the value of art was. As an attempt to unite artists, S.M.S. was an experiment in alternative means of artistic production outside the influence of galleries and museums. Every issue was a kind of dossier detailing each individual artist’s inquiry, practice and artistic narrative, showing how artists deal with the differing circumstances that lead them into the studio and allow them to produce art in the first place. This view altered the traditional journey of the artwork from studio to gallery, and blurred the roles of artist, editor and curator.
Utopian and democratizing, S.M.S. placed no restrictions on the contributing artists, who would submit original work for the portfolios which would be reproduced in print, sparing no expense in an edition of 2000. The cover for no.1 took the form of a cardboard mailer designed by Irving Petling, containing the work of various established and emerging artists for the time, such as Richard Hamilton, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Yoko Ono, and La Monte Young, to name a few.
- THE LAKE #019
- Artsy.net: About Marcel Duchamp
- MoMa: Fluxkit
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.
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