Category Archives: Illustration

The Best-Ever Publishing Festival Line Up

PPA-festival-line-upI’m producer of the two big content streams at this year’s PPA festival, where along with CEO Barry McIlheney and his team we’ve put together the most fantastic line-up. Four stages, 60 speakers, CEO’s, MD’s Facebook, Google and…Mushpit!

The festival is Thursday May 12th, there’s still a few tickets left, buy them here.

How to create Christmas, by using the very heart of your brand

Christmas is massive for all magazines, with The Big Issue no exception. They produce five festively themed issues, which requires ever increasing levels of ingenuity as December rolls on.

So hats off to another amazing cover, this time Santa as a digital mosaic of Big Issue vendor pictures. Here’s editor Paul McNamee on how and why they did it.

‘Distribution staff are always saying they need Santa on the cover at Christmas. I didn’t want a regular Santa – doesn’t say anything unique about us. This year has been all about celebrating the vendor. So I decided to create Santa out of the faces of hundreds of vendors. That’s where we started. Our art director Scott Maclean got one of the best digital mosaic artists in the world – Charis Tsevis, from Athens – and he built the cover. I think it’s the best Christmas cover I’ve been involved with – and I’ve done a few here.’

The Big Issue is a big brand, with a haloed place in our national consciousness. But it’s value is entirely wrapped up in the unique relationship between vendors and readers. that’s why this cover is so ace. For reference, here’s an earlier post on how the Big Issue are using twitter to #celebrateyourvendor

This new issue will be on sale from Monday. So get out and buy one, it’s Christmaaaaaaaaaas! (Holder/Lea)

An Englishman In New York

Well, sort of…

If you haven’t already guessed, this is my favourite magazine. Which seems more than appropriate since I’m currently consulting in New York City. You’ll find a shorter version of this post in the new book My Favo(u)rite Magazine, along with 88 other fantastic titles. It’s a brilliant project for a truly worthy cause, if you haven’t already done so, you can order yours at magculture right now.

The New Yorker

I lived in New York City for three years from 2001, taking up a position on Condé Nast’s Mademoiselle, and Rolling Stone after that. When asked what I thought of The New Yorker, I replied: ‘Not much’, brought up as I was on a diet of Smash Hits, The Face and European news weeklies. What business did I have with pages of uninterrupted text and tales of some place called ‘The Upper East Side’

9/11 changed all that. Not only did I become a New Yorker in that moment, but suddenly I had an appetite for news about America’s place in the world I could really trust. And for me, trust is still the strongest editorial currency; a value The New Yorker has held for an awfully long time.

With the most polyglot population imaginable, New York is truly a world city. Along with the movies, TV shows and general mythology, I believe everyone carries a little bit of the city with them. Should we wish, we can all be spiritual New Yorkers even if we have never lived there.

I could have chosen many issues as my favourite, but in the end I plumped for one I was reading when writing this post. From July 9th 2012, it’s not exactly the current issue, but I only finished reading it in the bath last week.

One reason why print still works so well, is the visibility and sheer physicality of the navigation. You always know exactly where you are, both on the page and in the book. The New Yorker amplifies this benefit by setting the type perfectly, using a minimum of page furniture and appearing to never change.

This means the reader experience can become highly ritualised. Flip though the cartoons, read the reviews, zip through Talk of The Town, and only then dive into a feature.

In my July 9th issue, I’d pulled out pages 48 to 68 in order to keep the floor clean as I clippered my hair. But mercifully, the big TED talks feature ‘Listen And Learn’ had remained intact. I wasn’t planning to read ten thousand words on something I wasn’t exactly searching for, but such is my trust in the brand, I made a start.

And what a piece of journalism it is. Immaculately researched and full of insight, the story had such power that it ever-so-slightly adjusted my world view, in a way that I believe will be permanent. Which is surely the greatest thing any media brand can ever do.

Finally, the cover; a celebration of Barack Obama’s health reforms. And like all New Yorker covers, it works on many levels. As an illustration, it requires the viewer to exercise their imagination. But then, this opening of our minds then allows the masthead to really work its genius. Because with no other coverlines, the masthead becomes the caption. In this moment, Barack Obama clearly has become a New Yorker.

But more than that, (and at the risk of appearing in Pseuds Corner), if we are all spiritual New Yorkers, looking at any New Yorker cover means that in some small way, we end up looking at a reflection of ourselves.

How do you feel about sending your kids back to school today?

New Yorker cover post newtownThis is the latest cover of The New Yorker. A heartfelt and moving illustration of what it feels like to send your kid to school in America after the Newtown tragedy.

Chris Ware, the illustrator, has written a fine post here, explaining his point of view, which is particularly acute, given that his daughter is school age, and his wife a primary school teacher. But what makes the work even more resonant, is that it’s a mirror image to the cover he produced a couple of months ago.

New Yorker cover back to schoolHere, he jokingly points to the free time parents are assumed to get once they’ve taken their kids back to school at the end of the long summer break. It’s a brilliant illustration, but as he says in his post, it doesn’t seem so funny anymore.

The New Yorker remains one of the greatest magazines in this world or any other. For me, the genius starts with the title. New York is truly a world city, with the most polyglot population imaginable. Along with the movies, the TV shows and general mythology, I believe this makes it possible for anyone to carry a little bit of New York with them even if they have never lived in the city.

The cover of The New Yorker is a simple enough proposition, but for me, it works on several very deep levels. The image is always an illustration. This requires the viewer to do some work to interpret the imagery. As such, it is a more thoughtful, reflective way of seeing the world. But the opening of our minds then allows the only words on the cover, The New Yorker, to really go to work.

I see this title as the caption to the image. Which, in the absence of any other coverline, means that everything, and everyone in the picture is a New Yorker. But, if we can all regard ourselves in some small way as a New Yorker, this means we are, in essence, looking at a reflection of ourselves.

post newtown newsletter clipBut what the hell are we looking at now? This is an image taken from the twitter feed of Andrew Becker @ABeckr. It’s a clip from the newsletter that teachers send to parents at the end of every week. His tweet said: ‘My daughter is two. That this is necessary is unconscionable’

The use of Comic Sans couldn’t be more ironic.


What Vanity Fair’s latest issue might look like, if it were weekly

America’s movie industry takes stock after the Aurora shooting, with this deeply moving cover from The Hollywood Reporter.

It may be weekly, but this cover delivers a feeling of quality and purpose that would dignify any world class monthly. Editorial Director Janice Min knows more than most about how to connect with an audience, as she was previously the powerhouse behind Jann Wenner’s Us Weekly in New York.

Her work at The Hollywood Reporter has been impressive since she arrived. So much so that in 2011 she was named by the Huffington Post as one of their media game changers of the year. I haven’t read this new issue, but Twitter suggests those who have found it very well reported.

To me, this looks like the cover Vanity Fair would wish they could do, if only they were a weekly. (Although I have been reminded that Vanity Fair Italy is weekly, but went in a very different direction this week)

This cover also feels eerily reminiscent of The New Yorker’s black on black 9/11 cover, suggesting that within the movie industry at least, the Aurora disaster might be seen in a similar light.

Illustrator Edel Rodriguez produced the art work, here’s the SPD post showing how he made the drawing. The grey halo around Batman’s head is apparently silver ink on the printed magazine. (Since I made this post, it’s been pointed out that Batman’s red tear drop looks like the eye tattoo favoured by those who have killed a man. I don’t know if this was Edel’s intention, but it certainly adds another layer of meaning to the work)

Shanti Marlar is the Creative Director of The Hollywood Reporter, previously (surprise!) with Janice Min at Us Weekly. Here’s the full story of how she redesigned the magazine back in 2010. A fine tale in its own right, this SPD post by Josh Klenert is packed with great visuals and plenty of insight.

But back to the story; here’s what The Hollywood Reporter’s own site says about their cover: ‘The new issue looks at the aftermath of the fatal shooting in Aurora, Colo., and how Hollywood will recover from the event — from the impact that violent work like The Dark Knight Rises can have and how movies like it will be made, marketed and seen in the months and years to come’

It’s a story I want to read.