Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bonnie Fuller: 'It's All About Knowing the Reader'

Fast and Fearless: The Life and Times of Bonnie Fuller
CBC Documentary, March 3, 2005
Click here to view two brief video clips showing Fuller at work

Provoking celebrities, confounding critics and colleagues and turning the unabashed world of tabloid media upside down, high-profile magazine editor Bonnie Fuller’s shameless embrace of sex, fashion, celebrity and gossip has attracted scores of readers and equal measures of scorn and admiration in the industry.

Fast and Fearless: The Life and Times of Bonnie Fuller, is a candid, behind-the-scenes look at the infamous editor at work. The film portrays her mercurial journey from a self-confessed geek in suburban Toronto to the very top of New York’s ultra-competitive magazine elite. Told through honest interviews with Bonnie, family members, old friends and high-profile colleagues, including the original ‘Cosmo girl’, Helen Gurley Brown, Bonnie Fuller’s story is revealed for the first time ever, warts and all, up-close and personal.

Purists may complain that the ‘Fuller formula’ has dumbed-down every magazine she's touched. Former staff recount that she's virtually impossible to please. Her ex-bosses have learned that she's probably more ambitious than loyal. What then makes Ms. Fuller such a commodity in New York’s merciless world of magazine journalism? By tapping into the average American woman’s obsessions, the ex-Torontonian and former editor of Flare, YM, Marie Claire, Cosmo, Glamour and US Weekly has been credited for her remarkable ability to post hefty circulation gains. So it’s no surprise that Bonnie Fuller’s reputation is on the line again.

As newly-appointed editorial director of American Media Inc., and responsible for more than a dozen high-profile tabloids, including The National Enquirer and The Globe, how will she fare trying to turn Star Magazine, a dying tabloid, into a popular mainstream consumer title?

The editorial chief of American Media says magazines must reach readers "both visually and textually." Editors may know what readers want, but if they're unable to "sell it on every page [they're] going to be in trouble."

By Patrick Phillips, I Want Media, 03/25/04

Bonnie Fuller is the editorial director of American Media Inc. (AMI), the publisher of magazines and tabloids including Star, Men's Fitness, Shape and National Enquirer. Fuller, a veteran of the leading women's magazines YM, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Glamour, joined AMI last year in a widely publicized jump from Us Weekly, the celebrity title she revived and transformed into a hot read.

The widespread attention given to Fuller's move to AMI "confirms her as the closest thing the magazine world has to a celebrity editor," observed Advertising Age. Her hot streak may have contributed to her appointment as 2003 Media Person of the Year in an online poll conducted by I Want Media and The Week magazine.

In a chat in her office at AMI, Fuller spoke about America's love of celebrities, Myrna Blyth's women's-magazine-bashing book, her advice for newspaper editors, and what the future may hold for Martha Stewart's magazine.

I Want Media: In our annual poll for Media Person of the Year, you were voted as the figure that had the most impact in the media in 2003. Do you believe that you've made an impact?

Bonnie Fuller: I really don't like to sit and sort of pontificate about how I did this or I did that. But in terms of the last couple of years, I did have an impact on creating a new category -- celebrity weekly magazines. We created a new habit for women.

This new category is important because it marries celebrity news with fashion news, beauty news -- even health news -- in a way that women never had before. The reader no longer has to wait. You can watch the Oscars and fall in love with Cherize Theron's makeup on Sunday, and by Wednesday you can pick up Star magazine and find out exactly how to get the look. You don't have to wait for a monthly, which won't come out until many weeks later.

The newspapers weren't even covering this -- the award shows and the red carpet functions -- in the same way before this exploded as a weekly category. This is a whole new thing.

IWM: Us Weekly editor Janice Min said recently that "celebrities have infiltrated our media in a way you haven't seen even five years ago." Has American culture become more celebrity-obsessed?

Fuller: It has, absolutely. We all need role models. We all need fantasy. And people like to gossip. Once you leave high school, you don't have people to gossip about in common any more. But everybody can gossip about celebrities. You can go to a cocktail party, and if you don't know somebody you can still go, "How about that Brad and Jen, can you believe that they blah-blah-blah?" And everybody can chime in.

Celebrities are more beautiful. They're richer. They date more beautiful people. They wear gorgeous designer dresses and outfits. And they do have body flaws, unlike 17-year-old models. There are celebrities of different sizes and ages that everybody can relate to. It's fun to have a glimpse into a more fabulous life.

IWM: What is the difference between the new glossy Star magazine and other celebrity titles?

Fuller: Star breaks news every week. In the last few months we've broken the biggest celebrity stories. We broke the news that Courteney Cox is pregnant. We broke the news of the Uma-Ethan divorce. We were the ones to break exactly when the Ben and J.Lo nuptials were supposed to happen. If you want to know celebrity news, you come to Star.

IWM: The new glossy Star is available only in New York and Los Angeles and doesn't go nationwide until April. But are you happy with the results so far?

Fuller: All we're hearing from the readers is that they love it. And we're getting younger readers and higher-income readers. They're becoming addicted to it. That's really important.

IWM: What is your mission at AMI?

Fuller: To grow magazines, to start magazines, to help give birth to magazines. And we will be acquiring magazines. It's really to help David [Pecker, AMI CEO] fulfill his vision of growing a very large print media company. And I think David would like to see brand extensions into broadcast media. It's really exciting.

IWM: Which AMI magazines need the most reinvigorating?

Fuller: Star was the first project. We're also in the midst of doing a redesign for National Enquirer. National Enquirer is a hugely important brand to us. We're going to be introducing a new design and glossy paper stock in April. We want to grow new readers for Enquirer.

IWM: Many of the Weider bodybuilding and fitness titles, such as Men's Fitness, which AMI acquired last year, would seem like a departure for you, given your background in women's magazines. Are they particularly challenging?

Fuller: I see everything as a challenge. Men's Fitness is interesting because it has a new way of talking to men. Its entry point is through fitness, but it also deals with emotional issues, and I can relate. It's a close equivalent to Cosmo, Glamour and Marie Claire.

IWM: Rodale is reportedly unhappy with how much the redesigned Men's Fitness looks like its Men's Health. What's your response?

Fuller: If I had a penny for every time one magazine said another looks like they do, I'd be a happy camper, as many magazines have more than liberally taken ideas I've done in other magazines throughout my career. Men's Fitness is well on its way towards the success that AMI has always envisioned for it.

IWM: AMI is planning to launch a new shelter magazine this fall. How will it be different from existing shelter titles?

Fuller: It's going to have a lot more service. It will be much more about how you get the look. It's aimed at couples in their twenties and thirties. It's for the guys as well as the women. A lot of couples do their homes together.

House Beautiful and House & Garden are very decorator dependent. Most of their stories are about a decorator helping somebody. But not many women can afford a decorator. They have their own ideas, but they don't know how to complete them. Women are used to that approach in fashion magazines, so why wouldn't they be open to it in a decorating magazine? I think there's a real need here.

IWM: You have a reputation for pumping up the circulation of your magazines. What are you doing that maybe other magazine editors aren't?

Fuller: It's all about knowing the reader. And it's important to be able to communicate to readers both visually and textually. The physical package has to attract them. You can know what readers want, but if you can't communicate it to them and sell it on every page you're going to be in trouble.

IWM: How do you stay in touch with the reader? Do you think you have a lot in common with your readers?

Fuller: Well, clearly I'm not a key demographic for Men's Fitness, but I'm a key demographic for who we're trying to reach in Star. I am that demographic, physically and mentally.

IWM: You recently gave a talk on how to attract younger readers to newspaper editors at a luncheon of the Associated Press Managing Editors. What did you tell them?

Fuller: I think newspaper editors need to think of their Page 1 as like a [magazine] cover. It's there to draw the reader into the pages of the newspaper. I also think it's important to not only have local news. I mean, when you're traveling, and if you can only get a local paper, you really feel like, "What's going on in the world?" You're hungry for the New York Times or USA Today.

IWM: Do you think most articles should be shorter? A lot of the articles in Star magazine are like captions.

Fuller: No, they're not.

IWM: Most of the articles in Star are less than 500 words.

Fuller: Well, they're not 5,000 words. I'm not saying that it's The New Yorker, but there is a lot to read in Star. And there are different ways of reading. A lot of readers at first are only going to dip in and read the captions or the first couple of hundred words. If you're interested in all of the stories, there's enough in there to take you a long time.

IWM: The individual who nominated you for Media Person of the Year (who wishes to remain anonymous) says that she admires your success and regards you as an inspiration. Do you see yourself as a mentor?

Fuller: I've worked at a lot of places, and I've had a lot of great people working for me. Many of them have gone on to become editors-in-chief. Like Kristin van Ogtrop, the editor of Real Simple. Atoosa Rubenstein, the editor of Seventeen. Keith Blanchard, the editor of Maxim. Quite a few. Cindi Lieve at Glamour. Janice Min at Us Weekly, of course. And Donald Robertson, who is now the creative director of Cargo. There are so many I'm leaving out.

IWM: What's your take on "Spin Sisters," the new book by Myrna Blyth, which claims that many traditional women's magazines are run by liberals and exploit readers' fears?

Fuller: I haven't read the book, so it's hard for me to comment. I know Myrna, and I respect her and think she's smart. But I certainly don't think there's been any kind of conspiracy. Women have made great strides in the last 40 years, and in that time women's magazines have been huge cheerleaders. They basically say, "Go do it. Here's how." They give women a lot of tools to help them widen their opportunities.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Assignment 10 - Newspaper.Design

Value: 15%
Production Timeline: Two Weeks
Due Date: April 16

Newspaper design includes considerations of color, typography, design psychology, information architecture, typographical and content hierarchy, word/story counts, and how the design and content reflect one another. As a result, it is a complex mixture of design challenges, especially because you are dealing with multiple pages. The design must be considered from both macro and micro perspectives: from the design of the whole publication to individual page layouts. A style guide must be implemented to maintain visual continuity to each page.

In this assignment, you will utilize your accumulative knowledge from Design Fundamentals for New Media, by redesigning three pages of the University of Lethbridge student newspaper "The Meliorist." These will include:

The front cover
- redesign "The Meliorist" logo, tagline, publication date and masthead
- base cover design on a feature article of your choice
- include titles and page numbers to other articles found in the issue

A double page spread of one or two inside feature article pages
- depending on the length of the article, you may use one long feature article, or an additional short article
- analyze the best way to present the content of the article - use pullout quotes, inset boxes with additional information, pictures and graphics, side stories
- you may do additional research to provide extra content to the article, or edit the article and pull out information from it to present away from the main body copy of the article
- illustrate key points with graphics or illustrations
- all your design choices - images, fonts, colours, layout approach, visual style - must visually match the content of the article
- keep in mind your audience - their ages, interests, etc.
- your compositions must show understanding of typographical hierarchies and information design, in addition to design principles
- include page numbers, a section logo, publication date and name of newspaper on each page

Ensure that your spelling is accurate, that hyphenation doesn't occur on more than two consecutive lines, and there there are no widows or orphans at the end of paragraphs. Use no more than two fonts, and create typographical variety with the use of different weights, sizes and styles.

Articles can be found on The Meliorist web site:


Research newspaper design on the web or at the library, and provide three samples of design approaches and layouts which inspired your final design. Write a few paragraphs on which elements you used from each.

Layout on 11x17 paper, with a 1/2" margin around all edges.

Print in full colour, on card stock paper.

Upload a jpg of your assignment to your blog and provide comments on your creative process. Make an Adobe Acrobat "PDF" file available on your class folder.

Evaluation will be based upon the following criteria:

- Has the student followed the assignment directions?
- Does the design reflect an understanding of the principles explored in the class sessions?
- Is there an interesting or innovative approach to the design?
- Is there an attention to detail and level of precision in the graphical artwork?
- Is the information legible and appropriate?
- Does the design faithfully reflect the audience?
- Did the student invest an adequate level of time and energy in completing this assignment?

Click here to open a slide presentation on newspaper design.

Click here to download the Illustrator double page spread template.
Click here to download the Illustrator cover template.

Technicolor Dreamcoats

Psychedelia is making a triumphant return. But in the updated Age of Aquarius, data is the new LSD.

It’s become a catchall label, but psychedelic design can be roughly defined as transcendental patterns of form and lettering juxtaposed with dominant “hot” colors like purple and red. Yellows, blues, greens, oranges, and pinks can fill up the patterns as well, and—at least in the ’60s—usually formed curvilinear shapes. The form reached its peak with Heinz Edelmann’s Yellow Submarine animation, Martin Sharp’s album covers like Disraeli Gears, Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable, Peter Max’s cosmic imagery and softly rhythmic lines, and Victor Moscoso’s almost unreadable San Francisco posters for Janis Joplin’s Big Brother and the Holding Company.

Thirty-five years later, “psychedelic” is a loaded word conjuring up VW microbuses, free love, and the fervent hope that sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll could overturn the existing order. But today, the Age of Aquarius has been reincarnated without the overt politics and peace signs. The neo-acoustic “freak folk” scene has taken off, metal bands channel the repeating chord structures of experimental composer Terry Riley, and cool kids play bluegrass standards on the banjo. Even the pop-hit-making team Gnarls Barkley claims that its most recent record, which spawned the summer hit “Crazy,” draws on psychedelic bands of yore. Mind-expanding music videos and backdrops to live shows are common, as wild as Uncle Frank’s trip and engineered as carefully as the sound.

Click here to read rest of article.


High-flying artist? Man of the streets? Whoever Banksy wants to be, he’s keeping it a secret for now.

By James Gaddy

Banksy, the most famous street artist alive, is waffling. I don’t realize this until I’m flying back to JFK from LAX, suspended in the air somewhere over the Ozarks. I had gone out to L.A. to see “Barely Legal,” his first major U.S. show, where I was hoping to find him, talk, and try to understand his appealing mystique. (And hey, maybe cut some stencils together.) I was curious to see what Banksy, an artist who is himself suspended in midair between cult figure and bona fide star, would have to offer this time. What would he do next?

But let’s start with the headlines, because for many, that’s where he begins and ends. “Animals Sprayed by Graffiti Artist,” BBC News declared in July 2003. The report claimed that a young man, whose real name was Robin Banks, had tagged a cadre of pigs, cows, and sheep, enraging the local animal-rights activists (and farmers). He had already sneaked into the London Zoo and sprayed “We’re bored of fish” in the penguin cages. In October 2003, “Graffiti Star Sneaks Work Into Tate,” sang the BBC headlines. Having stenciled “Mind the Crap” on the steps of the Tate Modern in time for the 2002 Turner Prize ceremony, Banksy had gotten inside this time. “I thought my work belonged in there and I got tired of waiting,” he had said. In July 2004, the London Evening Standard published his photo and identified him as Robert Banks, from East Bristol. But the photos were never fully verified.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Happy Birthday Helvetica!

The ubiquitous sans serif font celebrates it's 50th birthday this year. To honor the great typeface director and producer Gary Hustwit created Helvetica, A Documentary Film. It opened to a packed house this week (March 17) at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin and will tour around the world. Hustwit brings together renowned designers to talk about their work, the creative process, and the choices behind their use of type. In doing this he delves into the history of graphic design.

Click here to visit the web site of Helvetica: A Documentary Film, by Gary Hustwit. Make sure you look at the clips.

Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface (which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year) as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives. Helvetica will screen at film festivals, museums, design conferences, and cinemas worldwide, followed by the DVD release this fall.


Helvetica (shown in red) was developed by Max Miedinger for the Haas Type Foundry in 1957 and by the early 1960s became part of the worldwide craze for Swiss design and the International Style. Arial (shown in blue) came into being as desktop computers were developed by designers at Microsoft in 1982. Is one of these fonts more attractive and more legible than the other? Although designers certainly get passionate about the topic (almost always siding with Helvetica) Arial is now a common system font and is often the default for web pages. Perhaps the better choice for on screen viewing is Tahoma (shown in violet) which was designed by Matthew Carter for Microsoft in 1996. It has a larger x-height, more narrow shape and tighter letter spacing making it an attractive on screen font.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Architectural Drawings

Photo Credit: Paris Opera Facade, Pencil, Pen and Ink and watercolor on laid paper, 2004

ArchiTech is a historically comprehensive commercial gallery of architectural art, opened in Chicago's River North gallery district in 1998.

They specialize in original drawings by architects and industrial designers, as well as original prints, drawings and photographs by artists inspired by the built environment. Prominent in the ArchiTech collection are lithographs from Frank Lloyd Wright's Wasmuth Portfolio of 1910, original plans and construction documents from the architectural firms of Daniel H. Burnham, and archives from the estate of Alfonso Iannelli, Chicago's greatest industrial artist.

From 18th Century etchings by Giovanni Piranesi to 19th Century drawings by the Parisian firm of Viollet le Duc....from masterworks by architects of the American Prairie School to original designs by the leading decorative and industrial artists of the 20th Century, ArchiTech brings nearly 300 years of architectural art to corporate and private collectors today.

For more information on Architectural Art, please view their Archives and Artists pages. Click here to visit their web site.

Assignment Zero

Assignment Zero is a collaboration between Wired magazine and that asks the general public to participate in the process of writing news stories. Called "crowdsourcing," the experimental project combines the open-source tactic of Wikipedia with traditional journalism. Users can voluntarily take on assignments from the newsroom and upload their content, which is reviewed and tweaked by news editors. According to Wired's editor Chris Anderson, “This is an experiment in doing things differently, and maybe better. It doesn’t invalidate the way things have been done, but it allows us to bring in some nontraditional sources and approaches.”

Collaborative Visual Arts: Online art communities like Deviant Art, which give people a place to make and share online art, have already been crowdsourced for business purposes. Assignment Zero examines how the net allows artists to collaborate on a single work together -- where a product, traditionally produced by a single artist, is done by the crowd. They've collected a list of projects which are pushing the boundaries on collaborative art.

Click here to visit Assignment Zero.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Assignment #8: Architectural Deconstruction

Value: 10%
Duration: 1 week
Due: April 2

This project takes as its basis an important or influential architectural structure, from which you will derive an abstracted aesthetic design. As with the previous assignment, you will need to do a small amount of research to locate images and details such as the proper building name, the architect, the year of completion, and a few descriptive notes. See examples available on the course blog.

You will be creating a poster that celebrates this structure, but the graphic design need not emulate the time period in which it was built. You may choose to represent the building in its entirety, or simply use a very characteristic detail. Alternatively, you may break down the structure into a series of details, which can then be reorganized into a new configuration. Whatever approach you adopt, the final result should bear a resemblance to the building’s external appearance.

Photo Credit: Burj al-Arab, Architect Tom Wright

Begin with a selected photo(s), and begin tracing out the forms in Illustrator. Begin by simplifying details, discarding unnecessary information, and cropping /rotating the image. You may wish to flatten the structure into pure planes and lines, or attempt to simulate 3D areas. You might also consider taking an architectural ornament or detail and create a pattern. Consider paring down the range of colours to about 3 solids (plus black and white) to create a much bolder impact. Think about contrast, tension, and scale when arranging the text and supporting elements.

The poster must include the building and architect names, the year of construction, your design credit, and a brief 2-3 sentence description of its significance. You must also be conscious about parallels and alignments when orienting the individual graphic elements.

- 11”x17” colour print on cardstock or photo paper (the Copy Centre on level 6 has ledger size cardstock available for printing)
- *.pdf file labeled with your name and the assignment number (i.e. firstname.lastname_8.pdf) and placed in your class folder on the “S” drive
- upload your poster to your blog journal and write comments about your creative process
- please be prepared to present your work during the class session

Evaluation will be based upon the following criteria:

- Has the student followed the assignment directions?
- Does the poster reflect an understanding of the principles explored in the class sessions?
- Is there an interesting or innovative approach to the design?
- Is there an attention to detail and level of precision in the graphical artwork?
- Is the information legible and appropriate?
- Does the design faithfully reflect the design of the building?
- Did the student invest an adequate level of time and energy in completing this assignment?

Click here to download an MS Word document of the assignment.
Click here to view class notes on assignment.
Click here to see a list of architects and architecture.
Click here to see a sample project.

Photo Credit: Burj Dubai

Monday, March 19, 2007

Visual Onomatopeia | Logos Gallery

Visual Onomatopeia