'CONTEMPORARY NEWSPAPER DESIGN', by Mario R. García, is my own private Bible'

By Rodrigo Sánchez. April 8, 2013


Rodrigo Sánchez is the Art Director at the Magazines and Supplements Department of the Unidad Editorial group (which, amongst others, publishes 'Magazine', 'La Aventura De La Historia', 'Descubrir El Arte' and 'La Luna de Metrópoli'). He has been working on the latter, one of Madrid’s most prominent culture and leisure magazines - which has also been published nationally since 2004 - for nearly 17 years. Through a series of weekly visual experiments he creates the magazine’s fantastic covers that use daring and conceptual designs, which tend to leave no-one indifferent. Long gone is that first challenge to transfer the concept of the film ‘Trainspotting’ onto paper. Since then he has been able to enjoy complete freedom. “Some magazines put the talking points on the cover, we make the cover the talking point”, says this Madrid native, who has been awarded the prestigious Society of News Design prize on two occasions, and who organised an exhibition at La Casa Encendida in 2011 to bring together the magazine’s 200 most emblematic covers.


'Rolling Stone' - Fred Woodward

The fear of empty spaces, the obsession to frame everything (because everything was worth framing, let’s be honest). The passion for writing, for intricacy, for visual language, for simplicity and complexity all at once. That era of Rolling Stone had it all. It really did. Each copy that arrived at the editorial department was like a feast. It was like waiting on a letter from your loved one while crouching down in a trench on the frontline. It was fresh air full of tropical aromas sprinkled with ketchup and mustard. That designer, Fred Woodward, left us speechless.

'Harpers Bazaar' - Fabien Baron

I will always remember that 1992 copy: "the era of elegance has arrived". And that was how it went. Nothing has been as elegant as that work. The Didot typeface that Baron commissioned from Hoefler Type Foundry marked a before and an after in the design of fashion magazines. It was the work of a man with a woman's sensitivity. Women's magazines began to speak a different language.

'Esquire' - Roger Black

If a universal gentlemen's club had an official magazine, it would be the Esquire of that era. That magazine smelled of leather, of a new and starched shirt, of pipe tobacco, of sherry, of port, of aged rum, of experience and expertise. Roger Black is more than a designer. Roger Black conveys emotions through letters.

'New York Times Magazine' - Janet Froelich

The great newspaper's supplement has always set the standards for all the others. And the woman who sculpted it didn't follow trends. She set the trends. Since then nobody has managed to hold the leading voice in Sunday supplements with such mastery and for such a long time. It didn't matter whether it was a photograph, a drawing or typeface. Everything that her hands touched became remarkable.

Many other magazines and supplements marked my adolescence as a designer: GQ by John Korpics, Vibe and Village Voice by Robert Newman, Arena and The Face by Neville Brody, Ray Gun by David Carson, Premiere, San Francisco Focus, The Boston Globe Magazine, New Yorker, Texas Monthly by D.J. Stout, Fast Company, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Conde Nast Traveller, Us, The Wall Street Journal supplements by Gred Leeds, and many more.

Amongst the Spanish ones, the few magazines that inspired modernity in the eighties: La Luna, Madrid Me Mata, El Paseante, Madriz and the many and good Diario 16 supplements, from the time when Carmelo Caderot and Manuel de Miguel began to capture my attention.


'Contemporary Newspaper Design: A Structural Approach' - Mario R. García

When I was studying journalism a million years ago, there were hardly any textbooks about editorial design. I only remember a couple of them in our Faculty at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and out of that pair I only had eyes for the one written by Cuban-American designer Mario García. It became my own private Bible. Now, after decades of computers and desktop publishing, its page composition principles still apply. It orders and catalogues the options for columns, titles, the positioning of photographs, capital letters, text distribution, sections, tables of contents, subtitles, etc. Everything. Since then I’ve worked for many different editorial offices and that book has come with me to all of them. It's always on my desk or on my bookshelf.

'Modern Magazine Design' - William Owen

With simplicity, common sense and a clear description of styles and forms, William Owen unravels the evolution of the editorial design of magazines and supplements. He outlines the reasons for blank spaces, the use of photographs, of drawings and of typefaces as well as the use of black and white and of colour. The book also addresses the technological possibilities available to designers and the emergence of designers as communicators, of designers as journalists. It is a classic and essential book.

'26th Publication Design Annual' - Society of Publication Designers

Without a shadow of a doubt, the best design books are those that year on year gather together the best of what has been published in magazines from all over the world. And out of all of them, the magazine published by SPD (Society of Publication Designers) is the one that publishes the most and the highest quality pages. It includes hundreds of examples featuring the best covers and the most intelligent inner page designs, the best use of photography and illustration. It shows the trends, the flowing lines, fashion by regions, tastes according to the types of publications, and more. If it's not in these books, it doesn't exist. And, of all the yearbooks, the one I like best is issue number 26 that relates to the best of 1990. I don't know how many times I've looked at it and I don't think there are any pages left without a post-it stuck to them. I think I've memorised it. That decade, up to 2000, gave the best that has been seen in editorial design.

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