“Lessons of a Typomaniac” -4: Esquire Cover Design

Esquire magazine has been a canvas for many artists and illustrators like Alberto Vargas, Abner Dean, Santiago Martinez Delgado, George Petty, TY Mahon and John Groth among others. Art directors have included Jean-Paul Goude, Paul Rand, Roger Black and Samuel Antupit; also during the 1960s using the techniques of print advertising, legendary adman George Lois, the youngest inductee into the Art Directors Hall of Fame, designed clever, eye-catching Esquire covers, such as Sonny Liston as Santa Claus and Andy Warhol drowning in a can of soup to illustrate an article on the death of the avant-garde. Lois’ covers raised Esquire’s circulation in ten years from 500,000 to two million.

On the third floor of the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown Manhattan rests a tribute to Esquire’s glory years — a collection of 92 covers from the 1960s and early 1970s that have become, in the museum’s words, “essential to the iconography of American culture.”

Today, Esquire is recognizable by its “wall of type covers”—which have inspired similar design in such magazines as New York, Maxim, and the Atlantic. The magazine has also continued its leading role in cutting edge design with its recent electronic ink (October 2008) and lift-the-flap (February 2009) covers. -Wikipedia

These wall of types are one of the strongest examples of using typography. Using not only type as a communicational aspect, but as a concept of the cover, relating to the celebrity they are putting on the cover. Typography at this level, is a tool for transferring the visual power from the photo to the typography and vise versa. Considering these covers, the use of typefaces, the compositions of them, even the collors and the texture, are directly refer us to the person who has been photographed for that issue, the new role that they have, the characteristic of them, or the new change they have made in the world. They don’t speek only by text, they speak by the typography as a visual element!

Last year, Esquire earned the Magazine of the Year award from the Society of Publication Designers as well as National Magazine Award nominations for photography and design. With his creative team, director of photography Nancy Iacoi and fashion creative director Stefano Tonchi, he has made the magazine a reflection of the editorial: cool, smart and above all, classy. squire has a legendary reputation for both its articles and design. “Our greatest enemy is our past,” editor-in-chief David Granger has said to his creative staff. The magazine’s revolutionary covers of the 1960s, designed by George Lois, the former advertising art director and, later, Esquire art director, are still taught in art schools. Rather than be intimidated, the Esquire design team is developing its own imitable style.


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