Inside the best magazines of the world » The best magazines in the world

Jeremy Leslie of and one of the jurors in this year’s Magazine and Newspaper category for D&AD has posted images and a brief write up from the book of winners in a post titled The best magazines in the world? It’s always interesting to be able to get into the head of one of the jurors explaining the pros and cons of the process. Flip through it yourself at

Map Passion




I picked up Esopus on Sunday after I saw an article about a guy that draws a lot of maps. Some of these maps take years to make while others are a lot quicker. Whether the map is drawn on a roll of paper or a 8.5″ x 11″ sheet, there’s a lot of thinking behind them. It’s too bad that there isn’t more about Neil Greenberg online or in print. What’s fascinating about Neil is how his day job and passions intertwine – he runs a transit system and schedules buses. That knowledge becomes apparent when he describes his dream city and contrasts that with his city that has many things wrong with it. If you’re interested in maps and how stories are told by them, check out Esopus at your fav. mag. shop.

3 things I haven’t read yet – though two are online for you to look at

3 things I haven't read yet

In the last day I’ve collected a couple new pieces of material to read – all hard copies, I thought it was interesting that two of them are available online.

New York Magazine: Don’t Call David Adjaye a Starchitect
Lauren from Renegade passed me on this link before I even had the chance to open the mag…

Below the Fold:
I get this mailed to me on a regular basis…

The Architecture of Parking:
I don’t think this book has come out yet, but if you’re one of those people that luv’s to photograph parking lots – this book will be for you…

Two magazines to look for

Nude & Roger

I think I’ve found a design magazine that I can really spend some quality time with. It’s called Roger and I found it at Universal News, though not in the design section. It was hiding out in the front near the fashion mags. Don’t ask me why I was in that area, it must have been an anomaly or something. I may not have picked it up if I hadn’t come across ROGER LiVE’s website a day before via Kate Andrews blog Anamorphosis* who seems to be always writing or doing something about design. While I haven’t read the magazine from cover to cover you should take a look at it if you A. see design as a verb, B. as a philosophy, and C. looking for something with depth.

Another magazine I picked up was Nude They describe it as the following “Nude Magazine issue 10: Featuring 100 pages of countercultural goodness in full colour and on high quality art paper”. For the price it was definitely worth picking up.

PIN–UP: what was day 4 of Design Week, day 2 and 3 were a bit of blur now…

PIN-UP Event #2


Is it so wrong to go to an opening and spend most of your time looking down? That’s basically what I did tonight when I picked up the magazine PIN–UP which was having a launch party for their second issue. After work today I walked from the west side of 14th all the way to nearly the end of the 14th on the east side of Manhattan, made a couple quick turns and found myself in front of a red door. There’s starting to be a pattern where I’ll look at a door that seems forcibly locked only to find that with a regular turn of the wrist that the door opens with ease. They look locked but aren’t which is kind of interesting in itself. Something to consider the next time you head out to an establishment. I got there around 7.30 which allowed me enough time to grab the issue and a drink (or 2), look downward and enjoy the content. The last time I was this interested in any sort of publication was with the site Placement which has been quiet for too long ironically. As always I’d recommend going to check out and order a copy. If you need any other forms of persuasion – here’s a couple pics that I placed on flickr.

One more Milton Glaser quote: this time for New York magazine

“New York’s design is not about the grid, the typography, or the photography as much as it is an essential component of its editorial voice. Every aspect of the design, every element on every page, brings an integral part of the magazine’s content forward for its readers. Week after week it reflects the energies and experiences of New York in all its complexity and diversity.”

I caught this quote this morning via Unbeige as mentioned when Milton Glaser presented an Ellie to New York magazine. Why I think this quote is worth commenting about is that a considerable amount of blogs are essentially using templates that could be used for any type of content – including the template that I use. It’s something I go back and fourth about – spend a lot of time designing an original template, or tweak the functionality and content and let the template simply act as the container. There’s also the tech side of things like how someone is going to read the blog. Is the reader stripping out every thoughtful decision for reading the blog that I’ve made? Reading a quote like the one above kind of stirs me to think that it’s worth the effort to design a blog as original as the content that it makes available to read.

More about Magazines


It’s nice to see a couple blogs here and there talking about magazines. Printfetish is a new one (for me) that I found a couple weeks ago. From their site they describe it like this: “News, information, reviews and history on the subjects of beautiful magazines, self-published ‘zines, handmade books, small press, comix, art books and miscellaneous printed ephemera.”

Flip through their pages at

The good, the ok and the indifferent of Monocle



I picked up Monocle yesterday with the question of why was there so much talk about their first issue of the magazine? Is the industry in that bad of a funk, or is it something else. Possibly all those bloggers out there wanting to see something in their hands as much as on their screens? As I flipped through it back to front and then vice versa I was impressed that it read just as well either way from a visual point of view. I thought the placement of the letter on the last page made a lot of sense. I liked how the ads tended to fit in with the design too. Nothing seemed forced in that context. Though I hated the gutter length in between the columns – it was jarring to me. The typography will take a bit of time to get used to, but it’s not that bad. Their pie charts and pull quotes need a lot of work. Something about their photos reminded me of the design magazine Domus. Content wise, I think this magazine could find a broad audience, not just jet setting men – but women of equal curiosity. I liked the lego and shoe maker from Wisconsin interviews. The cover story kept me reading too. Overall I spent a lot of time with the magazine and wasn’t bored. Magazines that now launch need an online presence that carries the content further. Monocle makes the claim that you can get more from their website. I haven’t had time to check it out yet, but I hope they’re right. I look forward to the March issue to see if they can continue the pace that they set out with.

brand eins Online

brand eins Online

Checking out the questions relating to the new magazine Monocle and it’s first cover with Brand Eins covers through the website magCulture, I couldn’t help but be impressed with brand eins Online website. Aside from the ability to criss cross the sections quickly, navigate through icons and check out the nice typography, the archive of covers is really worth checking out. My only gripe is that the thumbnails of the cover can’t be enlarged significantly….

Reading and watching on your iPod, are these really digital magazines?

iPod Magazines

There’s been a couple photo applications on the video iPod that have challenged the idea of reading magazines. The first that I became aware of was Tiger (btw the cover image has a semi nude women on it, so use your own discretion) – a screen based art magazine that has started to transfer their content for an iPod download. It’s never been a printed publication so the experimentation is a natural evolution. On the more commercial side there’s From their site you have semi access to mens magazines like GQ to FHM. Their downloads are accessable to the iPod and a number of cell phones. It’s not the full magazine, most of the content consists of women and a couple text interviews. The template format is weak. There’s zero consideration of typography. It’s text set up in photoshop with no intention of what is readabilty. It’s also interesting to question the content, though it shouldn’t be such a surprise. The target is young males that are interested in tech toys. But could this format be used for more productive things? Only time will tell. Lifehacker has an article that talks about Perooz too, “Perooz” mobile magazines on your iPod, Zune or other mobile device.

Other iPod sreen apps that have tried to use the screen were those subway maps, but do you recall the last time you went to your iPod to see a route? Video – I don’t think it’s really caught on as much as people theorized it would. My guess is that the battery life up to this point hasn’t been able handle people’s expectations. But what happened to photos? Have you ever had someone pull out there iPod and share some of their images that they have stored? I’ve done it a couple times, but I’ve never seen anyone else do it.

Clip/Stamp/Fold in NYC Review

From the Clip/Stamp/Fold Exhibition held at the Storefront for Art and Architecture

As much as the word inspiration is a cliche – Clip/Stamp/Fold was was indeed inspirational if for no other reason than it gave the viewer a lot of reasons to want to enter the world of publishing with their own ideas as opposed to sitting back and accepting what is being composed in your time. The fact that we now have the tools to compile, publish and distribute ideas easier than ever before is worth the effort. But I digress slightly. For my first show at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, it didn’t disappoint. As I entered the space for the first time, opening the door not knowing what to expect I was surprised that I wasn’t overwhelmed by the visuals and sound. The space was composed with a number of visceral elements that fit together nicely. The large plastic timeline draws you in, displayed in a scale that takes you through the years 196X – 197X. The magazines displayed were predominantly written by architects, either as students or practitioners. Each magazine had a brief summary below the image that was essentially the ideas and intentions behind the writing. Going through each of the summaries drew up a lot of ideas that could easily drive a design blog or two. Looking back to these magazines on the timeline, it’s easy to get nostalgic for a better design writing period now for magazines or blogs. In my opinion it seems that the motivation is questionable today. There’s the vanity pieces, critiques that barely dig deeper than the surface and promotion of personalities as opposed to understanding the work and why it’s relevant. Then there’s the social and political questions that seem to be all but forgotten. The intentions of the publishers of the little magazines in the Clip/Stamp/Fold exhibition seem more about sharing issues, stats and hits were not the motivation as much as getting something out on paper.

From the Clip/Stamp/Fold Exhibition held at the Storefront for Art and Architecture

On a secondary level of the exhibition, there were plastic bubbles that contained some of the original magazines on the other side of the timeline. You couldn’t pick them up, but it made the timeline real. Not all the magazines were in pristine comic book condition, but that made it better. People read these things, they weren’t collected for archival purposes. Behind the bubbles on the other wall was an assortment of past covers from the timeline. You could get lost in the visuals – so much action represented behind each of the images. I really appreciated how all the elements came together. But there was more. On the third wall there was a number of magazines re-created digitally and printed for people to thumb through. They were all different designs, sizes, and content that was as original as each title. It wasn’t important that these things were printed from a digital printer, it had to do with the content and getting a feel for what it was and represented.

From the Clip/Stamp/Fold Exhibition held at the Storefront for Art and Architecture

But did you catch earlier when I mentioned sound? In a number of plastic clusters there were interviews being conducted and projected through some pretty interesting looking speakers. While I usually find this type of thing inconsequential in museum environments, it fit in there. I could focus on reading text on the wall, stop to look at the visuals and float into the sound of what was being talked about. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I did find the collection inspirational. It wasn’t because of the aesthetics as much as what the visuals contained. I think we tend to confuse personality with skill, and visual fireworks confused with importance in what it offers for others to build from. In this case it’s about what some designers decided to do because they thought it was important enough to say.

Clip/Stamp/Fold Timeline Graphic

Clip/Stamp/Fold is at the Storefront for Art and Architecture till January 31st, 2007 in New York. If you have a spare hour I would highly recommend stopping by. Be sure to grab one of the newsletters on the way out as it contains a number of excellent interview captions of people involved in the magazines. And besides that, it’s nicely designed.

I’ve also published a number of photos from the exhibition on my flickr site HERE.

From the Clip/Stamp/Fold Exhibition held at the Storefront for Art and Architecture

I wait for this issue every year!

I wait for this issue every year!

Over the last six years there’s been one particular issue of the NYT Magazine that I really enjoy receiving. It’s the Year in Ideas issue. Last year I almost didn’t get it in Edmonton due to some ridiculous distribution problems in Winnipeg. Eventually I had to order the magazine and it took two more weeks after the fact before it was in my hands. So you can imagine how happy I was to open my paper yesterday and see it in NYC real time.

I haven’t had the chance to really go through it yet, so I can’t really say how it rates with the previous five issues. It seems like one of my Christmas traditions when I have a couple days off is to spend a lot of time reading the current and past issues just to refresh my brain. I also try to re-read Atlas Shrugged, but that’s something for another post.

So if you’ve never heard of the Year in Ideas before, I would encourage you to pick it up or read it online HERE. to see a sample of some of the things that went on in 2006.

magCulture Blog

magCulture Blog

When it comes to publishing, the only thing I luv more than books is magazines and newspapers. Recently I was happy to discover magCulture, a blog about magazines and yes, newspapers. Be sure to check it out – you’ll discover something new. For instance on a recent trip to NYC, the editor of the blog (Jeremy Leslie) talks about some of the magazine related things he saw – like Visionaire. I didn’t even know such a place existed…

Visit magCulture at

D&AD Print & Editorial Forum in NYC

D&AD Print & Editorial Forum in NYC

Left to Right: Chris Dixon – Art Director, New York Magazine NY, Peter Buchanan-Smith – Creative Director, Paper Magazine NY, Chair – Jeremy Leslie – Group Creative Director, John Brown UK, Josh Liberson – Partner, Helicopter NY, and Suzanne Sykes – Art Director, Grazia Magazine UK

D&AD Print & Editorial Forum in NYC

Considering the level of speakers and their reputations in the magazine world, I was pleasantly surprised at how intimate the D&AD event was. The 50 (rough guesstimate) people that attended were dressed in quite a sophisticated British kind of way. But it was also relaxed too, and I while I was there by myself I only felt slightly like a loaner, but I digress.

Each designer had ten minutes to present their work. What was really interesting is that each of the four speakers presented in their own unique way. Peter Buchanan-Smith read from a set of prepared sheets of paper about his story of coming to NYC. Josh Liberson spoke to the audience somewhat ad-lib in more of a conversational way about some of the magazines Helicopter has redesigned. Suzanne Sykes got off the podium and talked about her weekly magazine Grazia. Chris Dixon was more commenting to each of his slides from New York magazine. Each person did a really effective job of presenting who they are and what it was that they were about.

Jeremy Leslie moderated the discussion afterwards. There were the inevitable NY vs London questions which I thought was slightly ironic considering two of the designers on the panel were from Canada. When the microphone was turned to the audience to participate, it took a couple ice breaker questions before the audience really felt comfortable asking questions to the four really talented designers. Usually I always have a couple questions, but I really didn’t think there was much that someone on the panel didn’t touch upon. I’m not working in the magazine industry, but I love buying magazines. Beautiful typography, stunning images and great content make my days go a bit better. And each of the four designers presented work like that, so what else did I really need?

After the event I had the chance to talk with one of the D&AD people. Not knowing ahead of time, but this event was D&AD’s first talk in North America. Laura Woodroffe mentioned to me that a lot of entries for their awards programme come from North America so D&AD felt it was time to make a presence, and to get out the word that D&AD is more then just about the awards. One such thing is professional development which is something that I’m hoping to take more advantage of myself.

Good Read?

I’m not a huge fan of design magazines, but I do have to say that it was nice to see the image from 37 Signals this morning. While I haven’t bought this issue of How Magazine yet, I will once it comes out. I’m looking forward to reading about design + business working hand in hand in a practical way. They’ve also created some great software and published a pretty influential pdf. To say that they’ve got a lot of “stuff” going for them is an understatement.

Designer Weims

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About six months ago I decided that I needed to get a bit of a life outside of design. Of course when a calling is your profession, it’s hard to ever really get away from it. But I did try, really. I had always wanted a dog, but never really took it any further than an idea. But since the time was right to start something new, Tamara and I did a lot of searching for the perfect breed. When we finally got to the “W’s” we knew we had found it. A weimaraner of course. Only after joining the Weimaraners (Pool) at flickr did I realize that you’re never that far away from designers. There are a lot of designers out there with weims as best friends. I never saw the connection before, but now it’s really obvious.

I’m not the only person that’s made this connection. Callie Neylan (a recent MFA graduate) makes a similar observation in her post Dogs and Modernism. She comments that weims are the only dogs that she sees in magazines like ID, Dwell, Design Within Reach etc. It’s hard to argue the point, they are the best breed out there. I’m being slightly biased of course, but when you have a dog like Maddie smiling back at you, it’s hard to argue.

Design seizures

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Design seizures, originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

When has it ever been a good idea to place a hologram on the cover of a printed piece? How about never? If this is what get’s advertisers excited about mags, we’re way past content issues.

Metropolis Magazine Redesign

metropolis magazine redesign
Originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

metropolis magazine redesign
Originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

So did you notice that Metropolis magazine has been updated/reDesigned? Really, you still read design magazines and didn’t notice?

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