This article was written by Coury Turczyn 5 years ago but it still significant today.
“The decline of western magazine design” from about.com
—Today, the art of the magazine cover has been vanquished by celebrity worship and bad taste. Designers are simply fulfilling the dictates of their industry, not unlike the paint person on an auto assembly line. Innovation, creative expression, or even cleverness has been mostly abandoned. Artistic considerations are limited to how much retouching the celebrity headshot requires in Photoshop and how many headlines can be crammed in before the cover looks too “busy.” The result: A world in which it’s difficult to tell the difference between Playboy and Harper’s Bazaar without cracking them open.
…When faced with a choice between an illustrated cover or Julia Roberts, consumers will pick Julia every time, they say. Publishers may be right–but why did uninspired shots of celebrities promoting their latest products become the only answer? Why did putting almost the entire contents page on the cover become required? What’s worse about these simple-minded solutions is that not many designers or editors trouble themselves over the inherent esthetic failings–this is the only way they’ve ever known magazines to be, so how can they be any different?
…Perhaps we live in an age with little patience for cover artwork that interprets a magazine’s content rather than just telegraphing it. Or perhaps readers don’t know what they’re missing and publishers don’t particularly care.
But decide for yourself. Here are modern magazines contrasted with their namesake predecessors of some 60 years ago. Which would you pick up at the newsstand?