Designers remember the magazines of their youth that influenced them

A relaunched NME designed by Kate Moross was unveiled last week, so we ask designers, which magazines inspired them the most when they started out?

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Jeremy Leslie, founder, magCulture

“The first magazine I remember regularly buying was the NME, back in its black and red inky tabloid era. But this wasn’t a design inspiration – that came later with the 1981 launch of listings mag City Limits. Designed by David King, who’d just then been responsible for the Rock Against Racism and Anti-Nazi League posters, the front covers were epics of bold, economic CMYK graphic symbolism that updated the visual language of the Russian constructivists to create an intensely strong, flexible editorial identity. They were wonderful designs that made the most of the non-existent budget and still look great today.”

The next magCulture event, The Modern Magazine 23015, takes place on 29 October in London.


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Sam Freeman, art editor, Future Publishing

“Ray Gun was the biggest source of inspiration for me starting out in editorial design. Led by art director David Carson, the mag explored experimental, often unreadable, typographic design that crossed the boundaries of type into image, using distorted, abstract letterforms to create visually compelling spreads. I think it was the punk fanzine DIY aesthetic that grabbed me. Although it was very much of a time, I consider it to be a ground-breaking publication and continue to reference it in my work.”


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Alex Breuer, creative director, Guardian News & Media

“I grew up in a small, uncultured northern town; my escape was reading all the music papers – Sounds, NME, etc – and cutting-out articles to stick on my wall, so I guess these were the earliest infusion into my design psyche. But unsurprisingly the first directing influence was The Face (in truth coupled with Peter Saville’s work for Factory). To my eyes, the type and photography had a drama and urgency that resonated with my teenage energies. It challenged the forms of my parent’s stoic Sunday supplements and was a design that nurtured the belief that you could mess with conventions and be more expressive. I had always been drawn to architecture/design from my first exposure to the work of the Bauhaus -but with the arrival of the Face, I first discovered what an art director was and that was possibly a job I could do if I failed to change the world of music with my own songs of polite teenage melancholy.”


Were you a fan of the Face, a devotee of David Carson or did another magazine inspire you? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • Damon Mahoney September 24, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    There was a indie magazine called Lime Lizard which was a huge influence on me. It was out from about 1990-92. Very bold and simple layout and very strong art direction and some beautiful use of gold and silver pantones on covers.

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