A lot of people read magazines for the information, the stories, and the pictures – there is no doubt about that! However, another reason we love magazines (especially today) is because of their timeless and beautiful designs, layouts and illustration artwork. I know that for me a lot of emotions come up anytime I pick up an old magazine I read as a kid, or even pick up a new magazine today, the way they are crafted really leaves an imprint on our lives if done correctly. Great design just sits in the background of books and magazines as we peruse and catch up on the news or whatever it is that the editorial is about, playing a big part of a beautiful performance composed by writers, artists and journalists. Without the words the editorial wouldn’t have a voice, but the imagery created to accompany the pieces is just as important and has been the tradition of print media for several centuries (starting way back in the 1400’s! Its has even moved onto the web now, of course!). Let us dig into a little bit of editorial history to see how this trend got started in the first place shall we?
A Brief History Of Editorial Design
The beginnings of Editorial Design & Illustration actually began long before the printing press was ever invented. In Europe during the 1400’s artists would do woodblock illustrations. The technique involved the artist sketching out their drawings on a piece of wood, and then they (or an engraver) would create a relief for print. Ink would then be applied to it and the wood relief would be pressed firmly to the paper or cloth, the process was quite similar to the way we use a rubber stamp today. As you can imagine this process was time consuming and costly.
“Join, or Die” was the caption marking the editorial illustration of a serpent that has been cut into eight pieces. Each of these pieces was marked to represent one of the 8 colonies. This editorial (or political) cartoon created by Benjamin Franklin, on May 9th, 1754, was published in his Pennsylvania Gazette and appeared along with his written column about the disunity of the colonies. The illustration paired with the article was an ideal way to show the early colonies how they needed to be united as they were in the middle of the French and Indian war. This piece does not have the same impact today that it once did way back then as in those days many people believed the folklore that had stated, “A snake that had been cut into pieces could come back to life if you joined the sections together before sunset”, but it does a good job of illustrating the historic beginnings of editorial design and why editorial illustrations, designs, and cartoons coupled with articles the ideal path to getting ones points across to an audience. The imagery used in this historic piece was ideal, as the colonies were not united at the time. The “Join, or Die” image is widely known for being Americas first political cartoon.
Yaakov Kirschen, creator of the Israeli comic strip Dry Bones, says his cartoons are designed to make people laugh, which makes them drop their guard and see things the way he does. In an interview, he defined his objective as a cartoonist as an attempt to “seduce rather than to offend.”
As the printing press continued to evolve and production became less expensive, Illustration grew in popularity and the demand for it was high. By the mid 19th century, major political newspapers in many countries featured editorial cartoons designed to sway public opinion on the politics of the day. One of the most successful was Thomas Nast in New York City, who brought realistic German drawing techniques to enliven American cartooning. his 160 cartoons relentlessly pursued the criminal characteristic of the Tweed machine in New York City, and help bring it down. Indeed, Tweed was arrested in Spain, when police identified him from Nast’s cartoons. Sir John Tenniel was the toast of London. Notable editorial cartoons include Benjamin Franklin’s “Join, or Die” (1754), on the need for unity in the American colonies; “The Thinkers Club” (1819), a response to the surveillance and censorship of universities in Germany under the Carlsbad Decrees; and E. H. Shepard’s “The Goose-Step” (1936), on the rearmament of Germany under Hitler. “The Goose-Step” is one of a number of notable cartoons first published in the British Punch magazine. Yaakov Kirschen, creator of the Israeli comic strip Dry Bones, says his cartoons are designed to make people laugh, which makes them drop their guard and see things the way he does. In an interview, he defined his objective as a cartoonist as an attempt to “seduce rather than to offend.”
Institutions which archive and document editorial cartoons include the Center for the Study of Political Graphics in the United States, and the British Cartoon Archive in the United Kingdom. Today Editorial cartoons and editorial cartoonists are recognised by a number of awards, for example the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning (for US cartoonists, since 1922) and the British Press Awards’ “Cartoonist of the Year”.
Hopefully you enjoyed that little bit of history (and learned something haha)! Of course a lot of factors contributed to the Editorial Design of today, but I believe political cartoons and Illustrations in editorials of the past were the humble beginnings of what we enjoy today! We have put together a massive showcase of modern editorial design for your viewing pleasure! The following examples explore editorial design layouts, illustrations, and infographics from all sorts of printed media (magazines, books, etc.). Whatever you are working on there is certainly something here for everyone to get inspired by! Get creative and go make something – who knows what impact you could have on the present (and the future!). Whatever you use this inspiration for – I hope you ENJOY!
What was your favorite Editorial Design? Found any awesome magazine editorial layouts or illustration designs that we have missed? What is your favorite magazine to indulge in for the shear aesthetic pleasurableness of it (past or present)? Share with the class in the comments below! Thanks for Reading!