I loved Ramparts, for its simple design, provocative imagery, and political content. Dugald Stermer was the art director in the late 1960s and has always been one of my magazine design heroes.
In the 1960s (and early 70s), Time used artists and illustrators to create powerful portrait covers. This one of Jesse Jackson by Jacob Lawrence has always been one of my favorites.
When I was a kid I loved comic books of all kinds, especially Marvel Comics illustrated by Jack "King" Kirby.
When I was the editor of The Rocket I was lucky enough to have Art Chantry working there as art director. Art taught me so much about design, imagery, and technique, and he gave me a lot of encouragement in my design work.
Music and music graphics of all kinds are always close at hand when I'm working.
Everyone loves the Esquire covers created by George Lois, and I'm no different. This one happens to be my favorite. The idea that he could get a cover photo of Lt. Calley surrounded by sweet Vietnamese children....it's mind-boggling.
There's lots of inspiration to be found from vintage Fortune magazine covers. The era I love the most was in the 1950s, when Leo Lionni was the art director, and Walter Allner was working with him on covers.
Emory Douglas was the baddest art director of all time. The Revolutionary Artist and Minster of Culture of the Black Panther Party not only art directed the Black Panther newspaper, but he illustrated most of the covers and created iconic posters. He created the Black Panther brand before we even knew what a brand was!
Reid Miles art directed and designed hundreds of covers for Blue Note Records in the 1950s and 60s. He had no time, no budget, and didn't even like the music, but somehow his creative use of typography, graphics, and photography came to define the look of the label, and feels like the perfect visual expression of the music inside the covers.
Ever since I was a little kid I was obsessed by movies of every kind, but I especially love those from the 60s and 70s that started creating a new approach to movie making. The posters from that era are pretty cool, too!
I like the classic men's magazines from the 1950s and 60s for their bold, colorful, jazzy covers and typography. Yeah, that's why I keep buying these, for the design....
In the 1980s, Newsweek launched Inside Sports as a competitor to Sports Illustrated. It was initially a bi-weekly, and after Newsweek sold it, a monthly. They had a number of art directors, most notably Vincent Winter. On the first magazine I designed, The Oregon Horse, in the mid-80s, we copied the Inside Sports cover design as much as possible.
New York is the only city left in the country with battling tabloid newspapers, and the brilliant cover headlines and images that go with them. When I worked at The Village Voice I wanted it to be the visual equivalent of the New York Post, but with progressive politics.
I love old paperback books, for the covers and the reading inside. I can spend hours looking through old paperbacks at stores, and then hours more late at night reading them. The quality and amount of illustration that went on these covers from the 40s-70s is just astonishing. Needless to say, the Parker series by Richard Stark is one of my faves.
Like many boys at my age, I was obsessed with Big Daddy Roth and Rat Fink. I had Big Daddy Roth models, trading cards, decals, Rat Fink statues, and more. For a young kid, this was wild and subversive stuff.
Neville Brody's work at The Face in the 1980s was a shock of inspiration and the coolest magazine design around. He was so good that you couldn't even copy him...it was too hard! One of my favorite projects of his was this redesign for New Socialist magazine.
The late 80s edition of Wire magazine, from London, was art directed by Paul Elliman. In opposition to a lot of bad design trends at that time, Elliman used simple, understated typography and photography and well-thought out white space to create an incredibly elegant publication. This felt like the natural visual successor to the great jazz LP cover designs of the 50s and 60s. I tried to copy this look as much as possible!