Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Covering Esquire: Then + Now

THEN: The year was 1962 and renowned NYC ad man, George Lois (the original Don Draper), was commissioned by Esquire's editor, Harold Hayes, to art direct the magazine's covers. Hesitant at first, Lois eventually took the job and made waves with his first cover about boxer Floyd Patterson. He went on to spend the next decade designing a series of brilliant - albeit controversial - covers that now hang in the Museum of Modern Art.

Lois' work is often considered some of the best magazine journalism has ever seen. I spent several classes at Syracuse covering his work and its overall effect on the public at the time.

I highly encourage you to read more about Lois. My favorite piece is from New York Magazine, in which Lois discusses his favorite covers and how each of them came to be (and the consequences that resulted). Click here to see them.

NOW: The times have changed and so have Esquire's covers. While they may not be as politically thought-provoking, I admire them for their artistic creativity. For example, have you ever seen type treatment like those above? It's crazy. Crazy awesome. And it actually makes me want to read the copy - almost like a challenge to see if I can. And the bottom two images are from the last two months of Esquire UK, both of which feature absolutely stunning photography. And not only are the images captivating, the subjects in them are actually DOING something instead of just standing there against a white backdrop (also love the photo of Leo splashing his drink, minus his orange-hued skin).

What are your thoughts on magazine covers?

Are you tired of the straight-on faces like we see on the covers of Glamour, Cosmo, and every. other. magazine??

How about shelter magazines? Would you want to see something other than a pretty living room on the cover? If so, what?


  1. I like what they've done with the type and do appreciate when any publication tries to do something different. One question, though, are Charlize and Blake wearing the same bottoms?

  2. I am much more drawn to an interesting cover and it does make me want to know what's going on inside. I love the type ... My fave is the one behind George Clooney ... But I love the full on bravado of the "Leo" Cover...brilliant. Great Post!

  3. Definitely adore the catching photography but the typography is what catches my eye for sure. Great post Alaina!

  4. the older covers are so much more inspiring than the newer ones! but i do lovde the throwback uk issues at the bottom, they rock!


  5. I loved that blake lively cover...It would be cool if magazines tried to make their covers more like a piece of art, like the penguin books etc. maybe then people would feel like they HAD to have it and buy it rather than just finding pics online...

  6. This is a really cool/interesting post! Thanks ay!

  7. Definitely tired of the generic glamour shot on most fashion and lifestyle magazines...these Esquire covers along with others from old-school Vogue, Saturday Evening Post, and Times Magazine (to name a few) are so much more stimulating and inspiring! I agree with Bailey...those are the types of covers that make you feel as though you NEED that if it's a piece of art that you won't see again...unlike our repeat cover beauties that you can be sure will make it to the cover again just a few months down the road. As for shelter magazines...hmmm, how about an interior shot that is styled with the dweller living in the space rather than posing in the space? Just a quick thought. Love the topic, btw!

  8. Great post, so cool. Love a black and White photograph, looks more raw and real. Like the real life look.

  9. Great post! I love magazine covers as art. A few others that generally do a pretty good job: Rolling Stone (they still welcome controversy), GOOD magazine, Real Simple (it's hit or miss, but I think they do a nice job with white space usually), and Psychology Today, surprisingly enough, has caught my attention in recent months.

    I'd love to see some really creative shelter magazine covers. I can't think of any off the top of my head.



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