Media Design: Frieze, Intern, MK Bruce Lee, Vanity Fair
Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct)’s weekly analysis of media design from South Africa and around the world:
- Independent print: Frieze celebrates enthusiasm with its 200th issue, in a world plagued by negative socioeconomic and political factors
- Online: The Intern supports the next generation and the future of creativity
- Iconic: MK Bruce Lee was a short-lived experimental magazine that helped define a contemporary design vernacular in South Africa during the 2000s
- Commercial print: Vanity Fair celebrates its 25th annual Hollywood issue, encouraging a respect for diversity and difference
Vanity Fair (US), 25th annual Hollywood Issue, January 2019
A few days after the 2019 Oscar nominations, Vanity Fair announced its 25th Annual Hollywood Issue, with what is likely the most-diverse cast to feature on the cover. The trifold spread comprises a group portrait, starring an assortment of prominent Hollywood talent. In order of appearance are Chadwick Boseman, Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Nicholas Hoult, Yalitza Aparicio, Rami Malek, Regina King, John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki, Tessa Thompson, and Henry Golding.
The message here is how the lack of representation and disregard for ethnicity and gender in Hollywood is slowly being remedied, answering the frustrations of the 2016 awards season, when there were practically no films featuring people of color. Chadwick Boseman, the star of Black Panther, which was nominated for Best Picture this year, stakes out his turf in the focal point of this populated portrait alongside Saoirse Ronan, who starred in the film, Mary Queen of Scots, and got no nominations this year. With the first superhero movie to bag an Oscar nomination for best picture this year, the kind of films that Hollywood will produce in the future are going to be eclectic, to say the least.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Frieze (UK), issue #200, January 2019
Frieze showcases emerging international artists in order to develop new narratives and perspectives surrounding more-established artists globally. As one of the leading international contemporary art and visual culture publications, the 200th issue of Frieze is a momentous occasion, sporting the theme “A Tribute to Enthusiasm”. The cover has shelf appeal, with an attractive iridescent holographic background — a trick that is increasingly popular among designers — contrasted by a bold yellow italicised exclamation mark in the foreground that certainly makes a statement about the ‘who’s who’ in the art world.
The subtitle states “200 fan letters to art and culture since 1991” (the year the magazine was founded), 100 published in print, and 100 more online. In a world that currently seems starved of much to be optimistic about, particularly regarding global socioeconomic and political woes, an issue dedicated to enthusiasm might seem to some a tad ‘Rococo-esque’ but, to those in the art world, it’s perhaps a more-defiant gesture. Important artists also pay homage in this issue, to their own inspirations since 1991 such as George Michael, the Large Hadron Collider, and the faculties of a male bonobo. With all its sparkle and rainbow colours, this cover reveals some interesting facts about the state of art and culture in the world today.
Intern (UK), Online, January 2019
Intern is a platform that has been predominantly print-based since 2013 (published annually, with four editions printed to date), currently evolving into a greater online creative and discursive space. Made by emerging creatives in support of creativity among young people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, Intern provides tailored tools and training required to secure a fertile creative future for the next generation. The site provides valuable information about issues that young creatives have to deal with frequently, with stories that cover youth-specific topics, such as the dated and counter-intuitive structures of creative institutions, unpaid internships, how to price yourself, and unequal access to job opportunities, to name a few.
There is an emphasis on community and collaboration, with rotating teams of young creatives commissioned to develop layered and pertinent online editorial and social media content. This dynamic and kinetic editorial model allows for an eclectic, somewhat eccentric, array of young voices to share their valuable experiences to a larger audience.
When one observes the editorial design of both Intern’s online and print iterations, it’s clear that independent journalism made by young people is alive and well, with quality favored over quantity at every turn. This is shown by the calibre of design and overall creative output, made mostly by students and graduates. A challenge to industry standards, to say the least.
MK Bruce Lee (South Africa), circa 2000–2010
MK Bruce Lee was an experimental, multimedia, youth culture magazine based in Cape Town during the 2000s. Packaged in the vernacular style of South African children’s Lucky Packets, the publication was designed by Peet Pienaar, with the backing of his prolific creative team, which included many now-established young designers and illustrators. Working from their small, now defunct, studio called The President in Spin Street, MK Bruce Lee was an offshoot of the alternative SA music TV channel MK, and was distributed by Musica. The magazine was also edited by Hunter Kennedy, guitarist and lyricist for the legendary Afrikaans rock band, Fokofpolisiekar.
MK Bruce Lee was a quarterly publication, with every issue produced in a different format, evolving from lucky packets to cereal boxes and containing a variety of printed media and formats that were designed with skill and taste, all combined with clear SA tone of voice. Featured here, one of two covers for the first issue, is musician Karen Zoid as a schoolgirl. The other cover featured a schoolboy portrait of musician Francois van Coke, as the magazine published a ‘Bruce’ for boys and a ‘Lee’ for girls. This issue contained a number of postcards and stickers, a 128-page A-to-Z handbook teaching readers how to start a rock band, and handsigned posters from bands and music artists Van Coke Kartel, aKing and Jax Panik, to name a few.
Due to the nature of the magazine’s format and irregular packaging, it was incredibly disposable and often contained perishables inside, making existing copies very rare. No other publication of this kind exists in SA publishing history, a point that makes MK Bruce Lee iconic. This point is reinforced by the Silver CLIO that MK Bruce Lee won at the 50th Annual CLIO Awards in 2009, for editorial design.
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. Connect with him on Pinterest and Instagram.
Media Design, formerly Cover Stories and MagLove, is a regular slot deconstructing media cover design, both past and present.
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