In a interview with Blackbook (here) George Lois doesn’t pull any punches on the state of magazine design today. I was at the SPD awards ceremony when he received a lifetime achievement award of sorts and remember getting so charged up after listening to him talk and watching a video Fred Woodward shot. Of course once back to reality, in an office filled with editors who wanted to cram information in every nook and cranny of the magazine that energy soon drained out. I can’t wait for magazines to stop trying to become websites and go back to being magazines again. George agrees:
“Magazine design is almost an oxymoron with most magazines today. It goes for even a great magazine like Vanity Fair. If you get even one inch of white space to breath you’re lucky. Everybody’s just packing in the information. Most magazines you pick up — you choke to death.”
“They say, ‘People buy magazines to read, for information.’ Well, you buy a magazine not only for that but so you can have exciting visual experiences. They try to jam words and pictures on every square-inch of the page like they’re working on a Web site.”
“Look at Vogue. Oh my God. Vogue and Harper’s once were very well designed magazines. I mean they were exciting to look at. You could not give a shit about fashion and be excited by the whole look of the magazine. You look at Vogue now: it’s not even designed. What a difference. You pick up a Vogue back in the days of [Condé Nast’s Alexander] Lieberman and those guys, and you look at it now, and it’s a disgrace.”
“Very few magazines do you look through — and I’m not talking as a designer, I’m talking as a normal person — do you look through something and you open a spread and it takes your breath away a little bit…
“I know, you’re pressured by your editor. If not the editor, the publisher: ‘Look at all this wasted space here.’ Blah, blah, blah. ‘Your readers want information.’
“Well, oh shit. Go fuck yourself.
“Meanwhile you go to a newstand, there’s about 200 magazines that all look the same. They got pictures of somebody — some asshole — I’ll never understand how editors and publishers think — showing just a famous person with blurbs all over their face. I’ll never understand why they think that would be something people would want to buy. I don’t get it.
“It’s a joke. A couple of years all the editors and publishers [at ASME] invited me to come down and kick their asses about covers. I go down. Standing ovation. ‘Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow!’ Nothing changed. It’s all bullshit.”