I came across a beautiful set of The Paris Review covers over at Belacquashua’s Flickr today. The Paris Review is still around (see current site here) but apparently they fired their art director around 1970, because this isn’t exactly moving design. Just another casualty of the age of desktop publishing I guess. I have two theories relating to this sort of phenomenon: either quality design has just become too expensive for smaller publications to employ or the owner’s son downloaded Photoshop and he decided to “do everything himself because those designers never listened to me anyways”.
What’s most interesting is that the modern covers seem to be sort of cheap ripoffs of their own 50’s era covers. Another culprit in this mess might be digital photography. You’ll notice that a lot of the newer ones (example) aren’t bad at all design-wise but they have a completely raw, coldly digital photo where the beautiful, hand-drawn illustrations used to be. I guess illustrators are pretty expensive these days too.
Has anybody here studied this phenomenon in depth? I know this is a somewhat isolated case, but from my own subjective observations, the decline of quality design in magazines and books seems to be a constant across the board. Please let us know in the comments if you have any thoughts on this trend. I’d love to know what’s driving this.
Images via Belacquashua