Cover Stories: Anxy, Luxe Noir, The Great Discontent, Vogue PT & Wet
Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct)’s weekly analysis of media design — both past and present, print and online — from South Africa and around the world:
- International/print: Anxy poses the question, “How are boundaries defined?”
- Local/print: Luxe Noir cultivates taste and style, focusing on contemporary art and design from Africa
- Online: The Great Discontent uses interviews with industry stalwarts, thinkers and makers to inspire and inform the creative community globally
- International/print: Vogue Portugal provides a restrained, enigmatic, and quiet portrait of fashion
- Iconic: Wet invented an unconventional, nonconformist graphic language that went beyond the status quo
Luxe Noir (South Africa), issue 2, 2018
Published biannually and based in Johannesburg, Luxe Noir is all about the cultivation of taste and style. It focuses on contemporary art and design from Africa, using a variety of topics from fashion to travel. A magazine that functions on collaboration via an international network of creative professionals, Luxe Noir highlights brands, artists, craftsmen, designers and the like who are making a real difference on the continent. The second issue, themed ‘material and meaning’, explores the differing perspectives and approaches of artists and designers towards the subject of materiality in their work. In so doing, Luxe Noir presents a cultivated and layered narrative about Africa and its inspirational creativity, feeding off the diverse cultural heritage and rich traditions of the continent and the diaspora. The quasi-minimalist cover proves that black is never a bad choice.
Vogue (Portugal), April 2018
The April 2018 issue of Vogue Portugal reminds one of the photographic installations and conceptual approach of French artist, Christian Boltanski, as well as the painterly, almost abstract expressionist, photographic language of New York artist, Saul-Leiter. The photographer for this cover, Branislav Simoncik, known for his editorial work for GQ and Elle, to name a few, certainly portrays a ghostly image of model, Jess Cole. With the support of stylist, Samuel Drira, and director, Dominika Svetikova, Simoncik’s work for this cover sees him make a slight departure from the editorial photography that he is noted for. Restrained, enigmatic, and quiet to say the least, it makes for a thought-provoking cover indeed.
Anxy (US), issue 3, Spring/Summer, 2018
In his book, Postmodernism, Or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Frederick Jameson suggests that anxiety, paranoia and schizophrenia are normal responses to the alienation caused by the media and consumerism in contemporary society. Here is a magazine with a similar approach. Not a scientific journal and in no way a self-help or motivational book telings you how to fix yourself, Anxy is a magazine with a simple message: “It’s okay; there are people who feel the same way as you do.”
Using factual stories, interviews, personal essays, and reported features that delve into the way we live today, Anxy attempts to expose the inner world of the human mind. Sharing various struggles and fears seemingly abnormal, Anxy exposes such feelings as utterly normal. The third issue, themed “The Boundaries Issue”, shows how boundaries define us as individuals and societies, signaling the question: how are boundaries defined? The cover is considered. Gradients are incredibly trendy currently, almost to the level of kitsch, but this cover is a rare, tasteful example among all the senseless, borderline vulgar, design out there with a similar visual language.
The Great Discontent (US), April, 2018
The creative mind may arguably, very loosely, be associated with narrative, or storytelling, in one respect and systems, or design, in another respect. In industries where storytelling and design are fundamental, which are paradoxically managed by strategists and accountants, it’s easy to become disillusioned and lose sight of the creative forest for the strategic trees. All too often, we forget that humans manipulate the (digital) tools, not the other way around, and we tend to disregard that people create the messages behind the pixels. In this world, where tools increasingly dominate the message, New York-based The Great Discontent (TGD) is a motivational magazine for creatives working within this industry milieu.
Available online and in print, TGD uses interviews with industry stalwarts, thinkers and makers to inspire and inform — from famous designers such as Adam J Kurtz to popular illustrators such as Gary Taxali. With over 130 long-form conversations already published, TGD offers rare, personal insights into the lives and work of trailblazers within the creative community. These interviews are supported by short features, podcasts, film-based projects and events to amplify the overall purpose of the magazine, collaborating with creative types across the globe, and the platform is open for all to contribute.
TGD Traveler is a compact companion to the larger-format print version and the more-organic online version of the magazine. Every issue contains four features, with the current issue, #2, showcasing Reggie Watts on the cover, who makes a point about improvisation as a pivotal quality for any creative mind.
Wet (US), 1976–1981
Trailing a curious strapline, The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing, WET was an eccentric lifestyle magazine published from 1976 until 1981. Thirty-four issues were printed in all, starting with #1 as a four-page black-and-white zine. Wet had to extend its interpretation of bathing, eventually referring to many water-related activities, such as drinking water (or bathing from the inside), hot tubs and waterbeds, to name a few examples. After several format evolutions, an idiosyncratic graphic language was invented that rebelled against the grid so holy to the modernists of the late 20th century.
True to the times and existing parallel to the DIY, anti-establishment aesthetic of punk, Wet’s defiance of the grid would come to fruition over a decade later in the form of publications such as Ray Gun (highlighted in last week’s column). With its unusual spreads and ambiguous layout, Wet filled its pages with art, music and fashion, and tasteful advertisements for the local fashion boutiques in Los Angles, supported by small amounts of nudity. In so doing, Wet crafted a vernacular for the new wave in Los Angeles during the late ’70s and early ’80s.
The offbeat nature of the publication is captured in a quote from its editor, Leonard Koren: “WET is a magazine devoted to upgrading the quality of your bathing experience. Hopefully, in the great American tradition of Coca-Cola, doggie diapers and Pet Rocks, Wet will become one of the things you never imagined you needed until you find you can’t live without it.” Wet developed its notion of gourmet bathing to be synonymous with an unconventional, nonconformist existence motivated by an endless appreciation of difference that lies outside the realms of rationality, beyond the status quo.
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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