Flipping Through The Pages Of Esquire Magazine

This is a comparative piece about the graphic design from the past to the present.

For my final graphic design blog, I am asked to compare one period of The History of Graphic Design to the present. In a previous blog I wrote about George Lois and Carl Fischer and the work they did for Esquire magazine; well I wanted to talk a little further about the magazine, the years spanning, and the creative minds behind the pages. In the end I will do my best to explain which time frame I prefer best- that part being strictly an opinion piece, because after my further research I put in about the magazine as a whole I really did find something creative and unique from each month/years’ work and designs. Okay… So, let me start you off with some facts… The Esquire quarterly was founded in 1933 by a man named Arnold Gingrich. The magazine was released as an oversized magazine that featured eloquent style, humor, fictional pieces, and drawings of half clothed young women. Later down the road it abandoned its original form but continued to cultivate its own influence of sophistication and refined taste.

Rita Hayworth
In Colombia’s You Were Never Lovelier
November 1 1942 Hurrell

In 1943 The magazine became the subject of a celebrated court case. Frank C. Walker, the U.S. postmaster general, attempted to withdraw the magazine’s second-class mailing privileges due to the notion that Esquire was “not devoted to useful information” worthy of the mail subsidy. Gingrich and his fellow colleagues fought back- enlisting noted writers in their defense; Gingrich took Walker to court and in 1946 he won his case.


“Its mascot “Esky” is a doppelgänger for Mr. Monopoly, a.k.a. Rich Uncle Pennybags, who made his appearance three years later, and perhaps originally represented something to strive for in those dark days.”

Esquire magazine was a leader in its use of unconventional topics and feature stories. It began to publish fictional work by Ray Bradbury, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, Truman Capote, Thomas Wolfe, William Faulkner, and Norman Mailer. The magazines risqué representation and once airy image gradually depleted. “Esquire provided an outlet for new and upcoming writers of fiction and non-fiction and its topical features, satiric humor, and excellent book, cinema, and music reviews filled a void between literary and opinion periodicals in the American market. Although the magazine continued to emphasize clothing and advertising directed to men, Esquire evolved into more of a general-audience publication.”

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote

Like most things do- Esquire magazine has evolved and progressed with the current times. It is no longer the publication it once was, but I can’t say that there’s anything wrong with that; years pass, and we all ride the wave. People move or pass in each direction- leaving room for new opportunities and growth. As style and fashion evolves; I have to say that there’s this classic medium that new graphic designers tap into- where they gather and incubate creative new ideas from; to take something already created, but to then modernize the design and alter it to make it come back to life in a new way, well it’s really incredible. It can be challenging coming up with new ways to design and view something that has already been created a couple different ways- To me it’s like they are tapping into this artistic portal to keep everything moving forward, and you can see that as you flip through the many different issues all throughout the years. I still have to say one of my personal favorites was George Lois, who was the creative director back in the 1960’s. Those cover designs really kick started the whole controversial, eye grabbing, lusty visual appeal of the magazine, but as I look forward to the present Nick Sullivan; who has been with the company as the current creative director for quite some time now has done a great job keeping the whole design appeal aesthetically pleasing and moving with the current flow of time. It takes a lot of creativity to keep coming up with new outlets, and to design and create something that is going to catch the reader’s attention. My sincerest props to all the people who share some part into the whole creative process. I want to take a moment and share with you some of my personal favorite covers from the past to the present…

The early 2000’s is when you really notice the whole aesthetic change with the magazine. It goes from having these more thought out designs to get the picture across, to just showing you an in the spotlight celebrity. They started choosing this cover style that almost engulfs the person on the cover with pieced together words surrounding them. In the early 2000’s this is when things were shifting, we were in a new millennium, technology was changing, and everything was following behind it.  Now, looking back at all this you can notice these differences in the design, but at the time you are almost just looking for who is on the cover this month. You forget what the magazine used to look like because everything else is changing in the world too. The magazine goes from this eccentric collage style pictorial- featuring a person sometimes, to just posing a person and getting some articles out there. You forget that they used to feature short fictional stories that had these elegant drawn out pictures of art to go along side with it, and everything that entailed with designing the publication. Now a days everything can be crafted together on the computer, making it easy to fall in a repetitious pattern with the designer.

Now I can’t say that I don’t like the magazine during this period or some of the people they feature even. The photography is great, some of their positioning with the models and the typeface is still well thought out, it catches my attention, I am just trying to state- how this was a period in time in graphic design with Esquire that bored me a bit. Check out 2007-2009 to really see what I mean.

By 2015 you can see this transition back to this heavier classic vintage style of the past with a way more aesthetically pleasing layout and structure. (I do believe during this time frame is when vintage style was becoming very popular again and making its way back around.) They start to play around with things a bit using different positioning for the typeface accordingly with the elemental flow of the subject to draw your focus on the main picture. They are back to precision angling and positioning (thinking more outside the box) and they have even incorporated some of their classic style and emotion that is seen in some of the earlier years. They seem to be revamping what the magazine was once about. Okay… So, with all of that said; this is supposed to be a piece about which graphic design style I prefer- So, I must say this is a hard choice. In the beginning I knew I was dead set on the original design and style, especially that of the 60’s, but with no further a due I really must admit I am admiring what they are currently doing in the present time, specifically 2017 to now. I am preferring it a little more because they are taking a classic twist on what once was created but expanding it with this modern art feel. They are bringing back this classic emotion but modernizing it with the current events. If you get the chance to look inside the magazine you will see all these bold, artistic patterns and designs I am mentioning. I have listed the link bellow so you can peek inside and take a look for yourself. So, with that all said and done and this being the final graphic design blog for the class, I must say this attention to detail has been my favorite learning experience of this class, getting to look at something closer and realizing all the different artistic work and design that goes in to making something and all the art that is around us every day in one form or another. Everything we come across is something that someone thought and came up with. How cool is that? It was an eye opener for sure and now I catch myself reading something and wondering what inspired them to use that specific font or choose that picture or pattern. I hope that you learned something from all this, and you can appreciate the smaller details that make up the world around us.

It’s been a pleasure sharing the things I discovered, thank you for the views as always and enjoy!


Work Cited:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: