Cover Stories: This Is The Place, GQ, Quotes, Yellow Book & Time Out LDN
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: GQ spoofs Vanity Fair, taking parody to the next level
- Online: Quotes embraces diversity, variety and change, evidenced through a multitude of differing conversations with reformers within the creative realm
- Iconic: The Yellow Book helped write Aubrey Beardsley into history, and defined a new genre of periodical publication during the late 19th century
- Local/print: This Is The Place provides a platform for emerging South African writers and artists, following the age-old theme, pilgrimages
- International/print: Time Out London worked with Cape Town’s Studio Muti to showcase the top spots in London using an illustrated typographic cityscape
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ This Is The Place (South Africa), June, 1st edition, 2018
Printed by One Mountain Press, This Is The Place is an independent publication pieced together as a compilation of poems and other literature, supported by illustrations and photographs. The first edition includes contributions by 20 relatively unfamiliar names, emerging South African writers and artists who write about small pilgrimages that they’ve respectively made throughout southern Africa. The opening page of this peculiar little zine encapsulates the essence of the publication, a contemplation about the various paths we choose to take: “This is the place, and everything is new. It might take a while, for your vessel to fill, and its way up the hill, but the paths are virgin in any direction you wander”. The cover art is a piece by relative unknown, Sebastian Basler.
GQ (US), June, 2018
After the scandalous release of Vanity Fair’s 2018 Hollywood issue in January this year — an epic photomontage fail where Reese Witherspoon had three legs on the cover and, in the spread, Oprah Winfrey had three hands — GQ magazine delivers an equally epic parody. The cover to GQ’s 2018 Comedy issue features iconic comedians, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae and Sarah Silverman with appendages galore, taking the notion of a photoshop battle beyond the realms of the absurd while somehow maintaining a sense of style and integrity.
In true spoof fashion, emulating the way Vanity Fair attempted to rectify the matter on social media, GQ accepted responsibility for its faux fail with an aptly bogus statement: “GQ would like to apologize to Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, and Sarah Silverman for the egregious mistakes made in the process of creating the cover for our 2018 comedy issue, the latest in our pantheon of mostly annual love letters to the funniest humans we know. Our intention was to celebrate the three super-funny superstars, who are all that is smart and perceptive and riotous and necessary in comedy right now. We deeply regret that the results violated GQ’s rigorous standards of editorial excellence and the laws of nature.”
If there ever were an industry dependent on turning negatives into positives, this is textbook execution.
Time Out London (UK), May, 2018
A detailed illustration from Cape Town’s own mind-blowingly prolific Studio Muti, known for its wide range of work for a variety of magazines, including Little White Lies and High Life, currently adorns the cover to the latest issue of Time Out London. With its theme based on rooftop experiences, the cover encourages people to be out and about in London, and to be on the search for sky-high fun.
The illustration is layered on multiple fronts. Technically, the sheer number of layers used in Illustrator must have been immense. Regarding process, it must have taken hours of putting pencil to paper to come up with this direction. Formally, the complimentary warm and cool colour contrast, and subtle use gradients to suggest lighting are highly considered. Structurally, the use of isometric perspective and grids doesn’t fall into the same clichéd trap that other similar, over-done, borderline passé illustration studios tend to fall into. The open composition is also layered, most importantly integrating typography into the subject matter of the illustration, literally illustrating with type, allowing the copy to jump off the page and announce that this issue showcases the top spots in London.
Quotes Mag (Bulgaria), June 2018
It is a cliché that the only constant is change (quoted from the ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus). Another platitude is the notion that variety is the spice of life (the perspective of 18th century English poet, William Cowper). Not to sound too ideological but it goes without saying that difference is the common denominator here, on a social scale at best. Difference should unite, not divide. On a biological scale, more connects than separates us.
Founded in 2015 in Sofia, Bulgaria, Quotes magazine encapsulates these understandings of change, variety and difference, providing manifold opinions and perspectives about our multifaceted and pluralistic world. The message it sends out into the ether? Things are not binary and we are not all the same, and that’s a good thing. Drawing from an assortment of distinct yet diverse discussions with personalities from various fields, mostly those who do their work under the radar yet help make the world tick, Quotes presents its readership with a multitude of convincing arguments in the form of inspired and relatable stories.
The Yellow Book (UK), 1894–1897
London-based, The Yellow Book, was one of the foremost British journals during the 1890s. The publication was known for its elaborate illustrations, many by Aubrey Beardsley, who was a noteworthy British graphic artist loosely associated with the arts and crafts movement, also influential within the rubric of the infamous French style known as art nouveau. Published between 1894 and 1897, The Yellow Book derived its name from underground, somewhat questionable, French fiction (normally wrapped in yellow paper) during a decade known for Parisian self-indulgence often referred to as the “Yellow Nineties”. As a quarterly literary periodical, it comprised many genres, from poetry and essays to illustrations and portraits. Beardsley was the periodical’s first art editor, and it was he who suggested a yellow cover for the publication, as he was inspired by sub-culture in France, following his friend and contemporary, Oscar Wilde.
Aside from the colour yellow used as a signifier for all that is unorthodox, other unique attributes of The Yellow Book was its clothbound cover and its exact categorisation of literary and art-related subject matter, rarely connecting but never discriminating between the two. The periodical was also devoid of any advertising. Beardsley’s initial presence helped to attract contributions from popular artists and writers such as John Singer Sargent, Henry James, HG Wells, and WB Yeats, to name a few.
After Wilde was arrested for ‘gross indecency with men’, Beardsley was sacked as the periodical’s art editor due to his association with the infamous Irish poet. Beardsley went on to publish his own periodical, called The Savoy, which was surprisingly long-lived, printed from 1895 until 1896. Publication of The Saroy stopped after Beardsley’s death at the age of 25 due to tuberculosis.
With Beardsley no longer present, The Yellow Book’s publisher, John Lane, took the editorial reins and began to include important contributions from female writers and illustrators, such as Ethel Colburn Mayne, Mary Chavelita Dunne Bright (who went by the pen name, George Egerton), Ella D’Arcy, Ada Leverson, and Ethel Reed to name a few. The Yellow Book maintained a high standard for art and literary publication until print ended in 1897.
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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