by Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct) Let’s delve into great media design from South Africa and around the world:
- Local/print: Drum depicts the finale, the big breakup between Zuma and Ramaphosa
- International/print: Empire offers insights into the prolific career of one of the most-influential film directors in history: Steven Spielberg
- Local/print: IAM represents African creativity, from the continent and the diaspora, in an effort to discover authentic culture from the continent and announce that the future is African
- Online: Pin-Up exhibits the power of internationalism and intertextuality in art, architecture and various forms of design today
- International/print: Type Life supports various visual languages and approaches to typography, showcasing Sang Bleu’s typeface designs
- Iconic: Adbusters challenges consumerism with anti-capitalist, agit-prop tendencies in support of culture jamming
Drum (South Africa), 22 February 2018
South Africans have undergone an eventful few weeks, notably with the resignation of now ex-president Jacob Zuma, accompanied by his patrons, the Guptas, fleeing for safety after being declared fugitives of the law, and culminating in our new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, being announced as South Africa’s fifth democratic president. One would, no doubt, expect a plethora of covers to be the result of such tumultuous events. In honor of legacy, what better cover to choose than that of the iconic Drum magazine? In terms of cover design, it screams as much as any other tabloid does, filling every possible piece of page real-estate with information, irrespective of hierarchy, pushing the limits of readability. But it’s the subject matter that counts here, with Zuma and Ramaphosa clearly taking center stage, announcing the ‘big breakup’ that has led to renewed hope in the minds of many South Africans.
Empire (US), April, 2018
The upcoming April 2018 issue of Empire is an ode to a legend in the history of film, none other than Steven Spielberg. The iconic director has been awarded the opportunity to take over this edition of the magazine with a trip down memory lane, beautifully illustrating his pioneering, blockbuster-defining career while simultaneously plugging his new film, Ready Player One. This ‘takeover issue’, naturally, includes editorial input from Spielberg himself, with the cover illustrated by Paul Shipper, who also designed the film poster for Ready Player One. Recalling the work of prolific film poster designer, Drew Struzan, the cover is a painterly photomontage of Spielberg’s most-historic films, including visuals from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Indiana Jones, Jaws, and Jurassic Park, crowned by a portrait of the auteur himself, giving a brief insight into the career achievements of one of the most-influential directors in history.
Intense Art Magazine (IAM) (Netherlands), issue #3, 2017
The third issue of Intense Art Magazine is a tribute to Nigerian artists, stylists and designers, all of whom are actively contributing to the ongoing discourse surrounding contemporary African creativity. Each edition is based upon a theme that focusses on a particular African country. The previous two issues, Cameroon (#1) and Senegal (#2), set presidents for the theme of every issue by narrowing the focus of each edition to one African country. Drawing upon the immense creative energy of the continent and the diaspora, IAM presents each country to any afro-curious creative intellects out there as a platform to access African creativity and culture; this specific platform is contemporary Nigeria. IAM makes the experience of this issue even more relevant and authentic by carefully selecting an editorial team comprised of Nigerian contributors, including curators, artists and writers, all the while breaking with conventional borders, perceptions and representation of Nigeria today. Peppered with a slight edge of Afrofuturism to design of the cover, this publication announces that the future is African.
Type Life (Switzerland), Issue #2, December, 2017
A type fundi’s delight, the second issue of Type Life — presented by type design company, Swiss Typefaces — is a wellspring of visual inspiration. Showcasing its unique visual language and approach to typography, Type Life is a mashup, a milieu where Kanye West meets Rudolf Koch, and Jana Schroder’s paintings are surrounded by Caslon engravings. Free from any layered form of writing, Type Life is not a literary publication, focusing rather on unorthodox ways to present letterforms. Printed in a small edition of 1000 copies, using a limited palette of seven Pantone spot colors, this issue throws everything at the viewer, from mirrored words to slanted letters and uber-trendy gradients.
The current issue celebrates Sang Bleu, which is the name of a typeface and of the agency that creates it. Among all the experimental layouts and executions of the typeface in this issue, bespoke typefaces originally designed for Vogue are juxtaposed with variants of Sang Bleu.
While showcasing a typeface per issue, each edition of Type Life features a guest artist. For this issue, Paris-based Studio Jimbo provides its own contribution. Many of the fonts showcased in this issue debuted in Sang Bleu’s magazine, a publication about fashion, tattoo culture and the like, and has been included into Swiss Typefaces’ catalog. A testament to contemporary typography and layout design, perhaps a suggestion of what Vogue could look like if Swiss Typefaces had anything to say about it.
Pin-Up (US), Issue #23, February, 2018
Pin-Up is a biannual magazine about architecture and design. Iteration and continuity being vital considerations when it comes to the use of different types of media today, Pin-Up does a great job transitioning from print to web. The magazine’s website compliments its printed iteration nicely. The cover/landing page for the current issue, themed “The Comfort Issue”, exhibits a portrait taken by American photographer, Daniel Trese, of the influential architect, co-founder of Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, Liz Diller, appropriated as a work of art by Italian conceptual artist and filmaker, Francesco Vezzoli, titled “Liz Diller with architectural rear”. The immediacy of internationalism and abrupt intertextuality between various creative disciplines in this issue speaks volumes about the integrity of this publication.
Adbusters (Canada), issue #1, #127, and #135, 2018
Adbusters is a Canadian NPO, based upon critical thinking of the status-quo, with a bi-monthly publication. Founded in 1989, Adbusters was composed as “a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age”. The publication actively challenges consumerism with its anti-capitalist agit-prop tactics based upon the notion of culture jamming. Void of any advertising, the magazine is supported by its readers, further emphasising the independent energy of the publication and its readership across the globe.
With its strong environmentalist approach, the magazine has had many influential contributors over nearly three decades of its existence, including Jonathan Barnbrook, Morris Berman, Bill McKibben, and Slavoj Žižek, to name a few. Famous for its “subvertisements”, Adbusters has launched many international campaigns, most popularly Occupy Wall Street.
Adbusters is iconic because of its advocacy of human liberty against the tyranny of corporate fraternity. Its fight against any moratorium placed upon free thought, albeit a tad too subversive for some to stomach, combats any attempts to slow or control the free-flow of information, rebelling against censorship and mediated access to information, in an age where access to information equals power.
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.