Zink magazine discovers Photoshop

I stumbled across this magazine while in the bookstore the other day. The horrible gradient and graphic treatment of the number 72 in the coverline ’72 Arousing Looks’ was enough to make me stop and look. Zink’s cover declares itself to be ‘the element of style’ whatever that means. Unfortunately if you’re looking for a style category to put the layout in, it would probably be ‘Church newsletter designer found Photoshop’.

The contents page (‘TABLE OF CONTENTS’ in case you weren’t sure), is a double-page of fairly traditional formatting, and looks like it lists almost everything in the magazine.

There’s some interesting photography in the front of book stuff, and when I first flicked through the pages I liked the overall feel of the use of white space and big bold type. It felt refreshing and kinda skateboard/alternative music magazine-like. I even had a brief flashback to RayGun and Blah Blah Blah, until I realised that the shoddy typography and badly cropped photos in this magazine were just that – shoddy and badly cropped (David Carson has a style at least, and it works because the editorial staff around him know his style and vice-versa). There are a few spreads focusing on product, which are among the worst offenders. Take the full-page shot of the shoe below, why is it cropped like that? Where’s the bottom of it? Or the page called ‘YOU KNOW YOU WANT THEM’, what’s with the ugly black boxes of text, and boring as all get-out use of images? I don’t think I’d want any of the stuff on that page just because of the way the page looks… there’s nothing of interest, nothing looks good or is in any way compelling enough to read about. And it’s not the fault of the photography, it’s the dreary layout. And then there are the styled, set-up product pages (‘TAILOR MADE’, below). This kind of product photography is being done by a lot of magazines right now, and nine times out of ten it’s being done way better than this. They should take a look at British GQ or this photographer’s work. The stylist and the art director really need to work together, try to find something unique about the way you’re going to approach something that is now very commonly used. There’s more to this than being able to balance a few products on top of each other. Make sure you have someone on staff who can color correct these images. And please, don’t run type over the products!
fob.jpg fob2.jpg product-2.jpg product.jpg

There’s obviously a lot of photography in this magazine, and the level of color-correction and re-touching varies wildly. One problem I’ve encountered in the past is that art directors who rely on the photographer to color-correct final images before print almost always fail to mention to the photographer that the final file must be color-correct in CMYK, not RGB, which results in the art director changing the file to CMYK themselves. This inevitably results in a huge loss of contrast, blacks go muddy and the press-operator has a harder time producing good color when printing. Combine that with a photographer or art director loves to blow the hell out of every image with whatever filter they can get their hands on and what you’re left with is a mess. And again, as in the samples below, little to no thought has been given to cropping the images. Look at the first two samples below, both are double-page spreads of one image, one model, and both run the spine directly across her face. And just so I don’t sound like I’m a complete downer, there are also some nice looking shots in here, see below.
spineface.jpg spineface2.jpg fash.jpg

Ok so yes, I am a downer, but I find it a total bummer when I see a magazine with such obvious potential and investment that is so poorly put together. If readers expectations are so low that they accept what they see here, then how can they be made to see the value in a publication that is actually professionally produced?

Explore posts in the same categories: bad magazine design, color choice, contents pages, Covers, design, Magazines, Photography, Production, Why is it like this?

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6 Comments on “Zink magazine discovers Photoshop”

  1. Shavez Says:

    Wow, your blast of Z!NK Magazine is truly a reflection of your youthful ignorance. Z!NK is actually one of the most respected fashion magazines in the industry. They been around the block for quite some years now and their cover lines were intended to have an old school photoshop look, but someone with your obvious lack of taste can’t appreciate cultural references. Element of Style is yet another reference, it refers to a take on the Periodic table, I’m guessing that’s a little too brainy for you, a shame that people like you have blogs. Perhaps you should stick to Reader’s Digest and Gun’s and Cammo. Magazines like Z!NK set trends that your other pop magazines rip off. I am in awe of your horrible taste

  2. Letitia Says:

    I’m sorry…this is obviously a delayed comment as March was the month of publish…but I cam here via Google researching Zink magazine because I fell into the trap believing the same exact BS you are saying Shavez..that Zink is so respected yada yada…and sponsor fashion weeks here and there blah blah..sorry for the lack of my articulation, but really, why on earth do people have to be so darn pretentious? I imagine that commenter works for Zink. The fact of the matter is, there is not a culture reference on the face of this earth that can make up for what the blogger is so clearly pointing out here: Zink = horrible art direction! Just because you are inspired by something, (insert historical reference here) gives no right to the art department to run a model through the gutter or send out bad color correction to the printers. I appreciate the editorials in Zink for what they are, but this post is a breath of fresh air..when something needs to be said I am all for it…what?..we have to defend Zink for their elite reputation? Well, if they aren’t paying me I see no need


    Great post!

  3. Shavez Says:

    No one is paying me either!?? I just happen to enjoy the magazine and if you had half a brain you’d know that this magazine has provided a lot of creative folk with a venue. I know it’s not the be all end all but have some respect for those that are trying to do something a little different. Sorry that your lives are so empty, not my fault. Have fun working at Starbucks

  4. antwanfisher Says:

    i like this magazine.
    the photos are usually
    pretty nice and the articles
    are actually interesting.
    not like some of it’s “competitors”

    i.e. Paper Magazine and NYLON.
    both I tried to read, but they couldn’t
    hold my attention.

  5. antwanfisher Says:

    oh! I forgot to mention, you should
    read THEME magazine if you haven’t
    already discovered it. It is a stellar!
    And so is Powerhouse Magazine.

    fyi. 😀

  6. Sandy Says:

    I like Zink as well …but I did prefer their original design because their overhaul in 2007. They’re still one of my fave fashion mags.

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