Posted tagged ‘Rolling Stone’

Rolling Stone’s new size

November 12, 2008

Yes, as usual I’m the last person to comment on this. Rolling Stone have gone from their 10 x 12 format to regular, perfect-bound magazine size, in the process re-tooling their existing look to work in the new version. It’s interesting how they tested it… according to the editor’s letter they “produced a version of that edition [the annual summer double issue] in the size and style” of the new one and “mailed it to 3,00 subscribers to get their thoughts. the response was a major surprise: Readers loved it. We realized that the only reason to resist change was nostalgia.” Here it is next to a regular-sized UK Esquire.

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Personally I liked the old format, but don’t read RS enough to care much about the change. I think one thing they had going for them before is that they didn’t look too much like Paste and all the other music mags borrowing heavily from their interior layout and font choices due to their unique format. Now, I’d be hard-pressed to tell pick a Paste layout from a RS layout from arms length. With squinty-eyed-blurry-vision of course… I’m not blind, just making a point. I wonder how much of a role cost played in making the change. Would love to know how their production costs changed.

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Rolling Stone and Jack Johnson’s massive head

March 3, 2008

Rolling Stone photographer Martin Schoeller buried Jack Johnson up to his neck in sand for the cover of issue 1047. It’s a really nice, crystal clear shot, would have liked to have seen more like this on the actual story inside the magazine, but it turns to a more generic set-up inside.
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The front of book stuff and the reviews at the back all look very similar, but very nice. They’re clean, easy to read and very Rolling Stone (see my comments about Paste magazine’s look a post or two below). Like the use of illustration, and the occassional graphic thrown in there. I also like the white lines around the cutouts on the society-type photos.
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I never normally mind inserts, but there is a huge one in here – the 2008 Hard Rock annual – which for some reason kinda pissed me off, then another one from Converse on the opening spread of the Ray Davies feature which looks ridiculous and completely ruins the look of the entire spread. Click to see bigger…
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PASTE magazine getting into the groove

February 28, 2008

Another magazine swiped from a co-worker before they arrive at the office…. Paste’s covers have always made me pick it up, but I rarely actually buy the magazine myself. I appreciate they’re trying to really build their own strong identity and I think it’s working on their covers, but I think perhaps they’d do themselves a service by making their interior templates look a little less Rolling Stone, especially in their choice of fonts and colors and the use of keylines of varying widths and colors all over the pages. But back to the cover, many times I don’t think they’ve made their logo contrast enough with whatever is on the cover to stand out on the newsstand or even be readable, and seem to remember several covers that use an abundance of browns, dark reds and yellows, that just completely dissappear when surrounded by other magazines. This issue is different… a simple iconic image, dark background with white-ish type on the coverlines and banner on a dark background, and a lot of space make this the most dramatic and eye-catching cover I’ve seen from them yet, I really hope they continue down this road. Looking in the top left corner, there’s one of these ‘*’ things which I’ve used myself in the past and am equally guilty of abusing without even thinking about what it actually does, which I think in the case of Paste’s cover is nothing. Designers seem to love slapping on plus signs, stars, flashes and all kinds of crap which I don’t think they’re really thinking about, they’re just sheeping their layouts in order to try to keep up with what’s ‘current’. But I digress, this Paste cover is awesome overall, and they should pat themselves on the back for producing it.
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I mentioned above the interior layout and template, but they also make use of some charts and infographics, some of which work, some which don’t… and they also have one of those website contents pages which seems rather wasteful here considering how little they seem to have on the page itself.
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The contributors page highlights some issues with hyphenation and justification. There’s some stretching of words causing some ugly white space between letters to fill an awkward column width which looks like it could have been easily fixed with a little deft editing or simply justifying left, but maybe this page, like the table of contents is one of those pages that’s knocked out at the end of the production cycle, one of the last things to be done, which is a problem I’m trying to address at my own magazine too!
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I like this spread on ‘4 to Watch’, but something also bothers me about it. It seems like it needs to go through another couple of design revisions, there are some drop caps hanging over the line of copy below them, the stat boxes at the start of each entry are really drab looking, and as these are presumably lesser-known artists, I’d like to have seen a little more emphasis on their names, and maybe some album art too (who knows, they may not have album art available). Finally, I think this page highlights the weaknesses of some of their regular templated font choices, particularly the one used on the top left for ‘4 to Watch’. The word ‘to’ just looks weird, and kind of ugly compared to the really clean, helvetica-ish font used immediately below, or the more western looking font immediately above (‘Scrapbook’).
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For all my criticsm however, I have to say this next piece blew me away. It’s an illustrated ‘Field Guide to Animal Bands’, by the ‘Paste Faunomusicology Society’, and has four illustrative/infographic spreads that require you to turn the magazine sideways to read. Each is broken up into a category – ‘Jungle’, ‘Insects, birds & rodents’, ‘Aquatic’, and ‘Extinct’, and contains an illustration of a type of animal which is labelled and representative of a band talked about in a blurb at the bottom of the page. I think the illustration is a mixture of ink, watercolor and photoshop enhancement, but combined with the old-fashioned field guide look of the layout, is just incredible to look at. There’s actually a lot of illustration used throughout the magazine, and all of it is really nice, it’s good to see a magazine which uses multiple illustrators to such good effect. See the four spreads below, click to make larger (sorry for the picture quality!). The illustrator’s name is Jeremy Holmes.
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Couple of really cool looking spreads from Rolling Stone.

February 20, 2008

Love these layouts, just good photography and a simple layout. I like that the Clive Davis shot by Platon is so tightly cropped, looks almost illustrated, like a Dave McKean image. Interestingly, neither was the cover story of that issue (February 21, 2008), Britney was on the cover. Click either to see larger versions.
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Rolling Stone’s 50th anniversary cover

December 4, 2007

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Not much to say about this, but I thought it a little odd they used an illustration of their own logo for the cover art. Is that… what is it? I guess I’m surprised that they didn’t do some kind of image of the artists that made their magazine sell all these years. However upon reading, I do think it’s cool that they have a common theme running throughout all their articles “Where We’re Going”… it makes for some interesting content. I think some of the featured artists could have been dropped for others with a little more to say.