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Random Newsstand Thoughts

I’m in the bookstore helping my wife research a new logo. Might as well check out the design rags. I rarely read through them much these days.

Hmm…the Print annual is out. Yep…once again they’ve managed to fit every piece of graphic design created from the last year into one phone-book sized issue. It’s amazing how good things look when printed 1” square.

HOW. I used to like that one. Let’s see what’s in there. Article on free fonts. Eh. Why designers listen to music on headphones while working. (This is article-worthy?). Technology vs. design. Huh. Nothing much here.

But wait…isn’t that…yes, that is a photo of Bill from Blinc Publishing, my old gig. And whadya know? It’s an article on the Hamilton Wood Type museum — something we just were talking about here on Speak Up. And hey…that’s Dave’s photography! Maybe I’ll post something about that. Nah. Linking to your friends just for the sake of it is kind of tacky, isn’t it?

All right…what else?…the new Minnesota Typeface…old news (poor print media…they just can’t keep up with the likes of Speak Up)…something about an alphabet made out of naked body parts…weird…yet another article on CSA…something about trendy T-Shirts…yawn…hey! An article on Susan Kare: the icon lady! She deserves some good press. And look at that. It’s written by our own Armin Vit. And he didn’t even tell us. That Armin. Always so humble.

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PUBLISHED ON Dec.29.2003 BY darrel
Armin’s comment is:

> And he didn’t even tell us. That Armin. Always so humble.

Right. That's because when I do I get shit for it.

It was kinda fun writing for a big magazine. The article got a bit too much edited for my taste but at least they kept my Larry Bird analogy.

Noteworthy in the newsstands too is the new I.D. issue. Completely redesigned — and in my opinion, quite, quite well done. It also includes the top 50 creatives of the country on a state-by-state basis. I was very happy to see that Illinois was rightfully represented by the baddest of 'em all: Rick V. If you never read I.D., take a peek at this issue, it is one of the best I have read in a long time. And, again, the redesign is excellent*.

* See? I do like some redesigns. When they make sense and actually make things better.

On Dec.30.2003 at 09:19 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Armin, I thought it was a good article. I will say that, overall, though, most of that HOW seems to be pretty much warmed-over press releases. Anyone else think that?

On Dec.30.2003 at 10:14 AM
Bradley’s comment is:

Who repped Missouri?

On Dec.30.2003 at 10:29 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

Which issue of HOW is this, anyway? The Business Annual?

On Dec.30.2003 at 10:33 AM
Michael B.’s comment is:

Bradley, Missouri is represented by Bob Cassily, part owner and creative director of St. Louis's City Museum.

The full list is available here.

Great idea and I agree the redesign is very effective.

On Dec.30.2003 at 10:56 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

It's the February issue of HOW...the Type issue.

Though it really didn't seem that type centric.

On Dec.30.2003 at 10:58 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> The full list is available here.

You know what's funny, but not funny-haha, more like funny-what's-wrong-with-the-picture? Of the 50 included, only six are women, plus there are like seven or eight couples. Told ya it was funny.

On Dec.30.2003 at 11:09 AM
Michael B.’s comment is:

Armin, back in the day, there would have not just been 50 men, but 50 men from New York. So at least there's a little progress.

On Dec.30.2003 at 11:35 AM
Armin’s comment is:

That explains why they had to divide it by states.

On Dec.30.2003 at 11:44 AM
Brady’s comment is:

Bradley --

> Who repped Missouri?

It's Robert Casi...

Oh, Michael beat me to it.


I don’t subscribe to I.D. any more - I only buy the design annual - I found I can read through a regular issue of I.D. in a quick visit to Borders.

HOW is a good magazine and can sometimes be a great magazine. The business annual is always a great read. My friends at Mitre in Winston-Salem were featured this time. I must say though, some issues should be dropped or given more editorial attention. The typography issue is one that should be given more attention; usually articles are kind of fluffy or lack a sense of newness.

That being said; Armin, I thought your interview was OK and did not seem like the typical SU interview. Hence, I had a feeling that it was subject to some heavy editing. This seems strange considering my assumption they asked you to do the interview based on what they saw in you interviews on SU? Was this the case or how did it happen?

Print is a consistent bore except for Steven’s articles and the historical entries (usually by Mr. Heller). Remember when they changed the format and - supposedly - the editorial slant in what seemed to be an attempt to be more hip? Not to mention, the Regional Design Annual has always been just a moneymaker - seriously, how small can you make a photo of a brochure?

GDUSA, now that is a monthly roundup of press releases.

While CA is a mainstay, eye and Graphis are issue-to-issue (because of cost), STEP Inside Design is my new favorite read.

A moment of silence please...

R.I.P - Critique

On Dec.30.2003 at 11:58 AM
mitch’s comment is:

in your average month, I typically thumb through, over a coffee at Borders:

-CMYK (just to see what the other students are up to)





and I usually end up buying or have a subscription to:




-Ready Made Magazine



-Architectural Record

and I have not picked up Step yet - thats a good idea.

On Dec.30.2003 at 12:17 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Brady, you are right, it is not a Speak Up interview because, well, it's HOW and not Speak Up. I held back (a lot) from the tougher questions because that is not the HOW style and I was not asked to do a Speak Up style interview. In fact, if you look at the interviews here you will never see me asking what somebody's influences are. Never. When I got the assignement it was specified that I should ask Susan what her influences are. So I went for more basic questions, as I assumed many people weren't familiar with Kare so… yeah, in short: no, it's not a Speak Up interview. But I do think the questions had a bit more substance than the usual HOW interview. I think.

Maybe I should have tried to do it more tough but being the first time I wrote for them I didn't want to scare them (nor Susan) away. (Tan, you don't have to say it, I know: Wuss).

STEP has definitely turned into one of the better magazines. It's a nice mix of thinking and non-thinking articles. The design is pretty good too and always has some nice imagery if you are into looking at the pretty pictures instead of reading.

On Dec.30.2003 at 12:33 PM
Rick’s comment is:

I just wrote up a long rant on why I dislike HOW... because I really loathe that rag (despite being a subscriber).

Then I closed the window accidentally, and I don't have the heart to rewrite it.



On Dec.30.2003 at 01:08 PM
Ginny ’s comment is:

I'm a subscriber to I.D. and I really enjoy it. I never liked HOW magazine. But I will at least thumb through this issue to read Armin's article (big ups Armin).

Other magazines I subscribe to that I think are worthy (for those who care):

Metropolis (consistently good!)


Dwell (although lately the articles haven't been all that good)

The New Yorker (although they send too many. I never have enough time to read them all.)

On Dec.30.2003 at 02:34 PM
ps’s comment is:

i personally looked at the current I.D. issue as one of their weaker ones. but in general i think its pretty good.

here my list of mag-subscribtions, all of which i like. exception maybe of la architect that i think has potential but has not developed..yet. recently terminated wired & persuading. i used to love harper's bazaar, but then they changed the design and it turned aweful. i think they changed it back since, but i have never looked at it since.




-interior design



-harvard business review

-california management review

-raum und wohnen

-la architect

-creative business (pdf version)



On Dec.30.2003 at 02:50 PM
Brady’s comment is:


Thanks for the insight as to how you approached the interview, I understand why you wussed out...

... I keed! I keed!

Though, I believe you missed my question about how you got the gig. Was it your interviews on SU or some other thing all together? That was why it was puzzling to read Armin-lite. Maybe I should have been more clear about that one.

* *

On another note, I just got the latest GDUSA - the 2003 Design Annual. Dear god. They will put anything in there. While I will not waste my time referring to specific examples, I will point out a perfect example: page 109, bottom left. Quick! Name the illustrator! Sorry, but you're wrong. It's one thing that visible copy is banal, the typography elementary... but to blatantly and so poorly rip off a noted illustrator and allow it to be included for publication is testament to the editorial standards of the magazine.

On Dec.30.2003 at 03:41 PM
Tan’s comment is:

All of the above -- I agree. HOW is 85% ads, 5% work, 10% substance. Print is known in our office as "the kitchen sink". CA is still the real deal. I agree Armin, STEP is much, much better than it used to be. Bravo to them.

But the mag I admire these days for editorial design is (gulp) Martha Stewart Living. You gotta admit -- the editorial layouts and typography is superb, month to month. Especially impressive when you consider that it's not a rag that's designed for designers.

Now why couldn't Maxim have a monthly design column too? Hmmm....

On Dec.30.2003 at 03:44 PM
joy olivia’s comment is:

Tan, my man, you should save that 1pt type for someone else.

You don't need to be ashamed to list Martha Stewart Living Magazine (or even any of the several other Martha Stewart Omnimedia publications out there, including Weddings, Kids, and Everday FOOD) as ones that you refer to for design inspiration.

No matter what your feelings are about the pub's editorial content -- or the Queen of Cleaning/Crafting/Cooking/Gardening herself for that matter -- these magazines are, after all, graphic design award winning pubs for a reason. Their consistently clean and inspirational spreads always help set the bar high for other designers like you and me. Plus, it doesn't hurt that one of the industry's most impressive ADs -- Gael Towey -- leads Ms. Stewart's creative coterie of folks.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is, props to you Tan for acknowledging the grace with with Gael's gang cranks out issue after issue of wet dream worthy spreads.

Since we're getting a little off topic, might I suggest interested folks check out Esquire. Lately I've been really digging the work their graphic designers have been doing. So much so it's worthy of note.

And before I forget to properly kiss some buttocks, props to you Armin, too. Looks like I need to follow the pack and make a visit to the local bookstore.

On Dec.30.2003 at 04:35 PM
joy olivia’s comment is:

Brady, you're spot on about Critique. I betcha most of the folks reading this mourn with you.

Ginny, I'm with you re: The New Yorker. As a side note, if you are ever looking for a good illustrator it's still the best publication to refer to for new ideas and to see great new artists too.

On Dec.30.2003 at 04:38 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

Bradley, Missouri is represented by Bob Cassily, part owner and creative director of St. Louis's City Museum.

Ah, thanks--foolish me, after posting I just went to the web site and found it there, and then learned more about Cassily. You think that being from and currently living in St. Louis would mean that I know who this guy is, but no. You'd also think that by doing some work for the City Museum (well, one of their...uh, "circuses") that I'd know of him too. Nope.

Either way--ID made an excellent choice here, because the City Museum RULES. It's an old shoe factory with a lot of slides and other things for kids, or 25 year old knuckleheads like myself, to play on. There are also mazes, climbing things, and a bunch of constructive/crafty type activities. The outside portion alone is worth the price of admission, and the architecture absolutely stunning. Its not bad for adults either, it stays open to 1 am, and its easily the most inspiring museums I've been to in ages. And I've been to a number of them lately.

Seriously, the City Museum is so cool that if I had the money I'd rent it out and throw a big Speak Up party. Anyone with kids or in search of something new should plan a trip to St. Louis and hang out there. Just amazing.

On Dec.30.2003 at 04:52 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

Now why couldn't Maxim have a monthly design column too? Hmmm....

At least you didn't buy it simply because Christina Aguilera was on the cover last week. Like me. In the airport in Dallas. But I'm with you on Martha Stewart, I just picked up the Kids version for some research I'm doing and the whole thing is GORGEOUS. I loved it.

Other magazines worth looking at:

Another Magazine

Dazed & Confused



Arena / Arena Homme



Creative Review

and I'm still collecting old Ray Guns from eBay.

Oh, Speak Magazine was great to. Worth picking up the old issues.

None of these are really "design" rags, but they're well done visually and the photography is some of the best out there for my money.

On Dec.30.2003 at 04:57 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> Since we're getting a little off topic, might I suggest interested folks check out Esquire. Lately I've been really digging the work their graphic designers have been doing. So much so it's worthy of note.

Is Fred Woodward still the Creative Director for Esquire? He is, right? I don't know why I'm not sure. But GQ got so much cooler after he took over.

And I agree, Martha Stewart living is excellent. Bryony subscribes to it and I invariably steal it for a quick peek. You are safe Tan, I will not call you a wuss.

On Dec.30.2003 at 06:30 PM
eric’s comment is:

Bradley, i hate to say it but i believe that Dutch is finally dead. i had heard that Guccione was buying the US rights and then the magazine disappeared from NYC about 8 months ago. agree with you on older Arena Homme.

would add to the general list:


plus 81

both are expensive japaneese publications but are worth the effort to find.

On Dec.31.2003 at 05:50 AM
joy olivia’s comment is:

Freddie is GQ's Design Director. John Korpics (I believe) is leading the way at Esquire as their DD.

On Dec.31.2003 at 07:59 AM
Bradley’s comment is:

John Korpics (I believe) is leading the way at Esquire as their DD.

Yep, he's still there and leading a great crew of designers. I also think Dennis Freedman and Edward Leida at Fairchild Publications (creators of such intellectually stimulating and life-changing tomes of wisdom known as Details and W Magazine) do phenomenal, phenomenal work. Pristine typography, great photography, and a fantastic sense of flow and pacing. Since they've been actively involved in Details especially, I think the editorial content has improved.

And I'm bummed about Dutch being dead. That was a good one.

On Dec.31.2003 at 10:37 AM
Armin’s comment is:

So I just made up that whole Fred Woodward-going-to-GQ thing?

On Dec.31.2003 at 11:19 AM
Christopher Johnston’s comment is:

Worth picking up:

~ Eye

~ Tokion

~ Vapors

~ McSweeney's

~ World Soccer


On Dec.31.2003 at 11:29 AM
Valerie’s comment is:

I agree that Step has certainly improved a lot since its Step by Step days. I have stopped subscribing to design magazines, as most of them just pile up and only get read through only once. But Step is one that I consistently buy every issue and read almost entirely. I like the fact that they not only focus on graphic design itself, but they focus on the people behind the designs. They even make it interesting to non-designers which others generally don't do. The only thing I don't like about Step's redesign is the overuse of the STEPSTEPSTEP bars all over the place. A little too much for me, but otherwise I am a big of Robert Valentine's work.

On Dec.31.2003 at 11:42 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

So I just made up that whole Fred Woodward-going-to-GQ thing?

No, you're right. You also said Is Fred Woodward still the Creative Director for Esquire? which was obviously an oversight. Woodward is still at GQ and doing some really nice stuff, as would be expected.

On Dec.31.2003 at 04:27 PM
Armin’s comment is:

And you know what Jon? Joy did answer my question. Although she called him Freddie… and since I'm not chums with Freddie I didn't realize it was the Fred I was inquiring about.

On Dec.31.2003 at 04:38 PM
Joyce’s comment is:

Curious: what would make Print less of a bore? And does "kitchen sink" refer to the design, edit, or both?

(full disclosure: I'm Print's editor)

On Jan.06.2004 at 01:56 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Joyce, I think Tan (not to put words in his mouth) refers to the Regional Annual as such because it includes everything but the kitchen sink… or in this case it does include the kitchen sink.

As far as my own opinion, the Regional has become too ubiquitous for its own good. It is just too damn big, I know that isn't much help as a critique.

As far as the rest of the editorial content, I have luke warm feelings about it. There are usually some gems in the monthly departments but the feature articles are rarely fulfilling.

Now, the design of it, like many of our beloved design magazines it fails to please the target audience: designers. STEP got it right. CommArts is just blah. HOW is DIN Bold and bright color overload (yet somehow, misteriously appealing to me). Print looks tired and old-fashioned. The covers, though, are consistently better than any other magazine (except STEP).

I think currently, there is nothing that defines Print. HOW is defined because it's an easy read and kind of fun; Eye is, well, Eye is simply outstanding; Emigre, is back as the critical view of grahic design. But Print… Print has no image right now, it lacks a voice and a personality to be associated with. From the former magazines I mentioned I know what to expect (in terms of substance) from issue to issue. WIth Print its a crapshoot to tell what's going to come next. I think Print is more defined by individual issues (Regional, Interactive, Designers under 30, etc.) rather than as a whole. There is nothing worse than ambiguity, and sadly, that's how I see Print… when I get to pick up a copy.

Maybe I should have stopped after the kitchen sink stuff.

On Jan.06.2004 at 02:37 PM
eric’s comment is:


if i'm not mistaken, this is your first post here? welcome. You and the hijinks around you were a high point of the AIGA concert.

On Jan.06.2004 at 02:49 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Hi Joyce,

I agree w/ much of what Armin said, but here's my take. First of all, I don't think Print is boring. Conservative would be a more accurate description to me. The writing is intelligent and topical, but never controversial or challenging like Emigre and Eye can be. As to its editorial design -- in the continuum between an academic discertation and a pure style mag -- Print falls closer to the former. It's not The Economist, but it's no Rolling Stones either. The layouts themselves are conservative, reflecting the writing and for the most part, the work inside. That's not a criticism, just an impression.

As to my "kitchen sink" description -- it's not necessarily a disparaging remark. To my knowledge, the Print regional awards annual is the only one of its kind -- segmenting the work by markets, allowing readers to see the personality and predominant type of work in a particular region. But there's just a LOT of work in there -- four or five times the amount of work included in your competitors. And because the work is segmented by regions instead of by design categories, the quality of design can be a bit inconsistent sometimes. Thus, the "kitchen sink" label.

Please take my comments w/ a grain of salt. There's nothing really wrong w/ Print. I still subscribe year after year, and find value in every issue. But maybe the mag could evolve a bit.

On Jan.06.2004 at 03:12 PM
surts’s comment is:


I've thought of Print as an older more mature sibling of How. It's been a while since I've bought any design magazines. It's not that the price is holding me back or the subject matter, but that there are more options available. If I'm looking for business info, I'm more likely to pick up HBR, strategy + business or a DMI article online. Design wise, SU, DO or typotheque contributors seem to have a lot of heart that I appreciate. A passing comment could send me in research mode for a long time or spending a lot of money at amazon. If I compare that to what happens after I read an article in a design magazine, I don't usually get that urgency to want to know more. There are exceptions of course, emigre is starting to do interesting stuff. The dialogue that happened with emigre and SU was fun to read/watch and made me feel like something was starting to evolve.

On Jan.06.2004 at 03:52 PM
Joyce’s comment is:

Thanks, Armin, for your comments, and thanks, Eric for the welcome (nothing like jumping right into the fire here, eh?).

Without resorting to a long-winded, blatantly self-promotional explanation of Print's mission, I would only say that what Armin sees as ambiguity is what I would view as editorial serendipity. Since Print covers the profession in a broad way, we are able to run the gamut when covering visual culture--everything from war propaganda to painted ice cream trucks in East L.A. Having said that, I will admit we have in the past been a bit behind the curve with timeliness, and we can also sharpen our critical voice a bit more in the edit well—things we having been working hard to improve. I am also making room for unique edit/art collaborations with contributors, on a regular basis, to make the well a more active, dynamic environment rather than follow the traditional trappings of magazine reportage. Maira Kalman was the first, with her self-profile in S/O, Paula Scher's the second (in J/F) and I have another lined up for M/A (our new visual artists' issue).

(Damn! that sounded self-promotional, sorry.)

I think any 64-year old publication risks accumulating a little dust from time to time, but we're working to counteract that by constantly finding new writers/voices both inside and outside the design journalism sphere.

As for the Regional, we would love to find a way to improve the pacing visually, but on the other hand it is the only national design review presented by region, and as such we need it to be pretty comprehensive. Readers love it—it's our biggest seller—and we dispite its kitchen-sink look it is incredibly selective—2000 finalists culled from 33,000 entries (and yes, we look at every one of them).

On Jan.06.2004 at 03:55 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> There is nothing worse than ambiguity

After reading that comment it seems harsher than intended. There are definitely worse things than ambiguity… like… I dunno, being eaten by an alligator. Seriously though, thanks for taking my comment in stride.

On Jan.06.2004 at 05:07 PM
Greg’s comment is:

Another cool thing abut Print - OK, so no one else has said cool things about Print - is its availability to students at a discount!

On Jan.08.2004 at 03:46 PM