Best looking magazine layout/design

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Jun 4 2011 11:21
Best looking magazine layout/design

What is the best looking layout and design work you have seen for political magazines (and newspapers for that matter)? And if possible, post up links to ones viewable online. Doesnt have to be in English either.

I think Afed's latest Organise is looking not too bad

The Paper and Catalyst are one of the best ones i can think of at the moment...

I remember thinking Black Flag looked amazing and was the best looking anarcho mag out there, but I feel now that its looking ok as opposed to awesome. (sorry rob ray! smile)

Ive just finished reading Dylan Miner's article about the papers El Grito del Norte, El Malcrido and the Industrial Worker, in Realising the Impossible: Art Against Authority. Im a bit wary of his theories of a working-class design, where papers look scruffy just because they are for a working-class audience... But if anyone knows of theories in layout and design field that are somehow relevant to anarchists then id be interested to hear them.

If people want to contribute with mags/newspapers that arent political but they think look really good, id still like to see them.

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Jun 4 2011 12:00

Here is an article about anarchism and graphic design:
http://libcom.org/library/not-manifesto-towards-anarcho-design-practice-2011

in terms of the best looking UK anarchist publications, I think Organise is the best.

In terms of internationally, I think Melbourne Black is the best one I've seen:
http://melbourneblack.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/melbourne_black_issue_1_online1.pdf

enoyreve
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Jun 4 2011 12:59

Was it Organise or Black Flag that had that amazing cover with a photograph of a dark, misty street (or something like that) last year? Whichever, that's the best looking.

the croydonian anarchist's picture
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Jun 4 2011 16:17
Steven. wrote:
In terms of internationally, I think Melbourne Black is the best one I've seen:
http://melbourneblack.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/melbourne_black_issue_1_online1.pdf

really, I think it looks too dull ?

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Jun 4 2011 18:33
enoyreve wrote:
Was it Organise or Black Flag that had that amazing cover with a photograph of a dark, misty street (or something like that) last year? Whichever, that's the best looking.

You might be talking about issue 230 of black flag, late 2009, tho i cant find a pic on the internet.

Now Signal, that looks sexy.

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Jun 4 2011 20:24

It's here, although I notice it is only a preview, Rob should upload the complete version:
http://libcom.org/library/black-flag-230-sneak-preview

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Jun 4 2011 21:01
enoyreve wrote:
Was it Organise or Black Flag that had that amazing cover with a photograph of a dark, misty street (or something like that) last year? Whichever, that's the best looking.

Could have been Organise

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Jun 4 2011 21:12

Black Flag had one of a cop stood alone amidst tear gas too, iirc

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Jun 4 2011 23:19

It's just labelled on the URL as a preview, it's actually the full PDF.

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Jun 5 2011 14:33

Whats your opinions on this Rob? Got any particularly good looking political magazines/newspapers stashed away at yours?

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Jun 5 2011 14:40
the croydonian anarchist wrote:
Steven. wrote:
In terms of internationally, I think Melbourne Black is the best one I've seen:
http://melbourneblack.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/melbourne_black_issue_1_online1.pdf

really, I think it looks too dull ?

i like it, to each their own...

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Jun 5 2011 14:53

The past front covers of Melbourne Black look quite good.

Looking back, I remember that the UK's Anarchy magazine looked quite good. Has Libcom got this archived? Couldnt seem to find it, or an archive anywhere else on the web...

enoyreve
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Jun 5 2011 15:51
welshboy wrote:
enoyreve wrote:
Was it Organise or Black Flag that had that amazing cover with a photograph of a dark, misty street (or something like that) last year? Whichever, that's the best looking.

Could have been Organise

That's the one. I thought it looked great in print.

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Jun 5 2011 16:01

for me, a combo of catalyst with the color of organise would be the best

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Jun 5 2011 16:15

TBH I think a lot of the magazines that have been coming out have been improving markedly, Mute's design on A5 is interesting, particularly the graphical front pages, Shift and Turbulence are both good at using white space and came up with some interesting graphics. As an example of design work and primitivist leanings aside Do or Die had some good ideas in it, as a newspaper I think the Spanish one with the office in Madrid (Diagonal?) is pretty impressive.

But tbh I don't think it's particularly useful to do an "x is better than y" scenario in general - what makes a publication's design good is working out how to grab both your core audience and new people which will mean totally different approaches depending on your content and aims.

For example I did a front page with Nick Griffin's face superimposed on a swastika'd Union Jack once, which was fine in terms of the use of shape, colour and for getting an impact but which sold fuck-all in part because it had a huge picture of an ugly fascist on it which no-one wanted to carry around under their arm! Class War by contrast sold huge numbers of their "best cut of all" paper, which wasn't particularly sharp in terms of design, in part because their imagery and tone was incredibly well-judged for the conflictual times they were living in. Context is really, really important.

Generally, we'll definitely need another step change to get into the design of the 2010s, which has to come through understanding and leapfrogging what the best commercial magazines are doing atm.

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Jun 6 2011 14:25

I used to do the layout for Melbourne Black. I'm pretty shocked you've heard of it. It was pretty boring; just a vehicle for delivering text, really. I CBF doing any illustrations or taking any photos; just used what I was provided. We did some nice things with the production. I stopped at issue three (I think), but it's still going as far as I know. I left when the editors decided to drop "anarchist" from the title.

There's a new title I'm involved in, Black Light, that is a little more design-ery + anarchy. We just did a test issue and we are planning to do our first issue soon. There's also a Australia-wide publication coming out either late this year or early next year, a joint effort between Jura, MAC and Organise (Adelaide). I imagine the production values will be higher. Looking at some offset printing.

I agree with Rob that "x is better than y" is a pointless comparison. Publications & audience v. effectiveness would actually be a great topic for discussion. Given that anarchists do not have the same kind of resources for production or market research, how do we quantify effectiveness? I have no idea, but an answer would be really useful!

Bluedog's original comment about "proletarian design" is also worth discussing. I fucking hate the "DIY aesthetic" too. It's usually obscures the important information for self-indulgent reasons by imitating outmoded or obscure technology for zero benefit. Worse than punks.

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Jun 6 2011 14:30

I think it's pretty obvious, despite their politics, that Fire to the Prisons and Crimethinc's Rolling Thunder blows everyone out of the water.

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Jun 6 2011 15:29

My personal favorite is Now or Never

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Jun 6 2011 16:11

cool

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Jun 7 2011 07:26

Lumpen, I'd heard of Melbourne black because it was posted up here!

I think it sounds better as "Journal of libertarian communism", but the layout of recent issues isn't as good as the older ones.

Harrison
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Jun 7 2011 18:02
Lumpen wrote:
Given that anarchists do not have the same kind of resources for production or market research, how do we quantify effectiveness? I have no idea, but an answer would be really useful!

in my opinion, the most effective mag is one that you are not embarrassed (or most happy) to give to a non-anarchist

The UK ones i would be most happy passing on to non-politicos are Catalyst and The Commune

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Jun 7 2011 19:31
Harrison Myers wrote:
in my opinion, the most effective mag is one that you are not embarrassed (or most happy) to give to a non-anarchist

although again that depends on its role. Catalyst is designed as outreach - whereas i think there's a role for more 'movement oriented' stuff that develops ideas and analysis for people already active as well; although maybe blogs/web will increasingly take on that 'inward looking' role from print.

tigersiskillers
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Jun 7 2011 21:28
Joseph Kay wrote:
although again that depends on its role. Catalyst is designed as outreach - whereas i think there's a role for more 'movement oriented' stuff that develops ideas and analysis for people already active as well; although maybe blogs/web will increasingly take on that 'inward looking' role from print.

For 'inward looking' stuff I love Endnotes. It's very simple, but feels like a nice object, and the large right margin used for footnotes works well. Despite being text heavy and with heavy text (see what I did there?) it doesn't feel offputting.

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Jun 8 2011 11:18

Yeah, I think endnotes looks great. Shame about the content!

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Jun 8 2011 17:28

The most attractive anarchist/libertarian communist publication I've come across is ANTIPODI by the FdCA: http://www.fdca.it/antipodi/

Unfortunately there are no pdfs of it online. And perhaps more problematically, the magazines cost €8 which is pretty steep, especially in Italy. But you can see pictures of the magazine's front cover at the link.

ANTIPODI is particular odd seeing as that pretty much everything else the FdCA produces is incredibly ugly.

A journal coming from our tradition but now not really either communist or libertarian is the the french journal multutudes: http://multitudes.samizdat.net/ which is also really attractive.

Otherwise I think the 'Irish Anarchist Review', 'Turbulence', the 'From Thoughts to Action' magazine produced for ESF in Malmo was really nice both in terms of content and design. It doesn't look great in the pdf but the hard copy is nice. http://anarkisterna.com/ESFaction2008.pdf

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Jun 8 2011 19:05

After the fall looks pretty good:

http://afterthefallcommuniques.info/

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Jun 8 2011 22:55

Issue 9 of Imminent Rebellion, a big-tent NZ anarchist journal, was super pretty, one of the nicest looking journals I've ever seen (unfortunately a lot of the pretty is done as 2 page spreads and the .pdf is single page at a time, but you still should get the idea). Issue 10 is nice too, but 9 was the prettiest.

Jared
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Jun 11 2011 10:27

Not trying to blow my own trumpet or anything, but I design the Labour History Project Newsletter. It's a very straight/minimal/boring design, but they like it and it seems to be easily readible... http://indymedia.org.nz/sites/default/files/lhp-newsletter50_1.pdf

I also used to design a zine called Rivet, wich can be downloaded here: http://www.zinelibrary.info/files/Rivet%20Three.pdf. The print version obviously looks less sporadic in terms of images on pages....

Oh, and that artcile on design and anarchism is mine too laugh out loud

Justseeds put out some nice publications, as does IAS. The latest Perspectives designed by Josh MacPhee was sweet.

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Jun 12 2011 15:52
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Oh, and that artcile on design and anarchism is mine too

Did you also design the image that accompanies it? I thought that was quite inventive, and yet nice and simple.

Rob Ray wrote:
Generally, we'll definitely need another step change to get into the design of the 2010s, which has to come through understanding and leapfrogging what the best commercial magazines are doing atm.

By leapfrogging do you mean basically checking out what all the various commerical magazines are doing and then trying to keep up with the latest design trend?

Joseph Kay wrote:
although again that depends on its role. Catalyst is designed as outreach - whereas i think there's a role for more 'movement oriented' stuff that develops ideas and analysis for people already active as well; although maybe blogs/web will increasingly take on that 'inward looking' role from print.

I agree, though i hate looking at e-books and stuff all the time. Need to get away form the computer screen sometimes!

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Jun 12 2011 16:25
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By leapfrogging do you mean basically checking out what all the various commerical magazines are doing and then trying to keep up with the latest design trend?

No I mean keeping an eye on what they're doing and then using those ideas within our own dynamic. To give a couple of examples:

With something like say, Aufheben, which takes/took a heavier theoretical approach, I might pick out something like Wallpaper* and look at what everyday design ideas it uses as a high-end graphical magazine, then apply a combination of that and say, ideas from the '68 period to give it a genuinely different feel where design elegance and a feel of simplicity offsets the weight of the text.

With Black Flag I've taken a very different approach (though not at all as rigorous a one as a single designer as I'd expect with a a full collective) where I've picked out elements of how mid-market magazines (ie. where I'd place Flag in terms of price/content in the event we build a full spectrum of media outlets) operate. To that I've grafted elements of design and photography taken from my own experience working with newspapers, and some ideas from the radical press with the idea being a kind of "comfortable" ethos where people pick it up and immediately feel comfortable with how it handles and that it will read in a relatively accessible way. Going beyond that is not something I'm equipped to do with current resources, but ideally I'd do a load of different things to make it stand out as both radical and accessible.

Jared
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Jun 12 2011 19:41
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Did you also design the image that accompanies it? I thought that was quite inventive, and yet nice and simple.

Yes I did. I actually found the general shape in an old photograph, which was in a 'Popular Mechanics' magazine of the 1950's! Its of a worker standing with some kind of ladder/metal unit tongue