Blender almost does it for me

Blender’s May 2008 issue has Alicia Keys on the cover, no doubt selflessly serving up invaluable nuggets of wisdom and advice for readers in the manner to which pop stars are accustomed. I really like the cover actually. The photo is great obviously, while fairly straightforward. Thankfully, apart from the cover story, the coverlines aren’t taking themselves very seriously, and the sell is made with the sheer number of names listed on there – Madonna, Mariah, Keith Richards, John Mayer, Kid Rock, Alicia Keys – and the other stories like ‘The Outrageous Money of Rock’s Secret Millionaires’. There’s obviously a lot of stuff in here to read. I’m also really digging the transparent type on ‘Alicia’ and the blue arrow on the right of the cover – it’s a small, almost invisible touch but it changes the dynamic of the cover completely. Picture it in 100% solid color, you’d be left with a much more traditional, late 90’s/early 00’s looking man’s mag type design. The transparency adds just a touch of… quality?

Beautiful first contents page, if a little hard to read. More use of transparency in the pull-quote box, and a nice resistance to cropping the image to make her fill the entire page. Also, a reference to the magazine’s website in a single line at the bottom of the page. Not mind-blowing, but effective overall. Like I said, the only thing bugging me is the slightly too small body-copy font, and the cramped feeling from that copy being pushed up to the edge of the picture frame and so close to the spine. I’d liked to have seen a similar treatment here to the one on PC Magazine’s toc page where they have a visual guide to the placement of stories listed on the cover. They do have an artist index on the second toc page (not shown) which is useful, but not as immediately obvious.

I like the letters page, even though it’s a really simple layout with not much going on, the white space and photo of the cover story spread from the previous issue look really good. For some reason I always really like when there is a picture of a magazine page used as opposed to a digital snapshot of the page placed like a regular photo – it just always looks better (and probably makes your layout look better too). I just blew your mind there right?

Front of the book stuff is generally good looking, thought there’s a bit of a lack of structure to it which I find odd. What I mean is, on the pages with multiple short stories the layout looks a little like everything is just floating around, and there’s no real draw for the eye with maybe one or more really cool or prominent items per page. But that’s not to say they look bad at all. I guess the content dictates that they don’t have the advantage of the majority of most other (non-music) magazines that can spruce these pages up with a bunch of awesome looking products.

There’s some nice photography in the secondary features, two of which come before the cover story. The Kid Rock piece is a regular monthly feature formatted as a diary where the subject apparently calls the Blender office every day for a week to update them on their movements. The opening spread is pretty sweet, I like the spontaneity of the photo on the right, it’s obviously just a quiet moment caught on camera. The Keith Richards Q&a image is awesome, I wonder if it’s possible to take a picture of that guy that isn’t amazing to look at. I like the use of the ‘In 1967,’ as a drop cap type graphic. A couple of pages on and we reach the cover story. It’s nice enough, again nothing mind-blowing, but note the small size of the deck and non-descript placement. On the following secondary feature on the band Tokio Hotel, a similar sized deck is used again, and combined with a small, again non-descript header, it’s not immediately obvious you’ve actually reached a completely new feature, it looks so similar to the secondary pages of all the previous ones. It’s a minor quibble really, and if you’re reading the whole magazine and paying attention it probably wouldn’t even be an issue. There’s exactly the same issue with the John Mayer story following almost immediately on from the Tokio Hotel piece.

Explore posts in the same categories: contents pages, cool, Covers, design, Influence, Magazines, Photography, Typography

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4 Comments on “Blender almost does it for me”

  1. magfan Says:

    you’ve got to be kidding me. BLENDER??? please re-read the magazine, consider what you’ve written, and write THE COMPLETE EFFING OPPOSITE!!!! i say this with no touch of hyperbole, Blender is one of the 10 worst magazine on the planet, surely the worst music mag. its page count is about 50 pages, its content is a joke (Madonna, Mariah, Keith Richards, John Mayer, Kid Rock, Alicia Keys…talk about CUTTING EDGE!), and its design is amateur. do urself a favor and re-read any blender from the last 2 years…

  2. Now, now. I was only talking about the design, and I did say ‘almost’. I agree with you on the content. I think the design is good for the most part, hardly ground-breaking, but there were a couple of things I felt worth pointing out. Believe me I share your frustrations on the content side – my full-time employer produces a music magazine which I have nothing to do with. Their latest cover artists? JUDAS FUCKING PRIEST. Yes there’s a new album. But really – Judas Priest?

  3. Lobed Says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Lobed.

  4. Brock Lesnar Says:

    Typical student-level design. NO idea what you’re on about. Must have been a good bongload that day. Look again and see if you still feel the same Cheech.

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