Emigre Magazine: Design, Discourse and Authorship
Emigre 15 cover, ‘Do you read me?’, 1990. This issue, focused on new typefaces and legibility, features typeface designs and interviews with Peter Mertens, Zuzana Licko, John Downer, Jeffery Keedy and Barry Deck, among others. As I was coming of age as a designer I witnessed and was influenced by …
As I was coming of age as a designer I witnessed and was influenced by Emigre Magazine. At the time, we didn’t have blogs, or social media. Therefore, the only places design students were able to look at new work were books and magazines. In the 90s, there were the ‘established’ publications such as Graphis, Communication Arts, and Print along with award annuals. And then, Emigre Magazine, the ‘rebel’ of them all, suddenly popped into the scene. University of Reading’s Department of Typography & Graphic Communication is hosting an exhibition dedicated to the groundbreaking publication, “Emigre Magazine: Design, Discourse and Authorship.”
Emigre gave voice to a new wave of designers that challenged the design establishment. The magazine sought to provoke, with its adventurous fusion of self-publishing, critical writing, and experimental typography, the design community. It was a critical time in graphic design when everyone felt the impact of digital technology like never before.
The magazine was also one of the first publications to be created entirely using Macintosh computers. This bold move greatly influenced graphic designers as they were moving into desktop publishing. In a strange way, Emigre opened the door to current design criticism and showcase blogs. Somehow, it freed designers to express their opinions and unabashedly publish their work.
Emigre was co-founded in California in 1984 by Rudy VanderLans who, also, art directed it using fonts designed by his wife, Zuzana Licko. Amongst notable collaborators were Jeffery Keedy, Gail Swanlund, Anne Burdick, and Andrew Blauvert.
Personally, all of the designers who either were featured or collaborated with Emigre became my heroes. Through this publication, they greatly influenced the work I was doing as a student. Its dynamic pages served as a stage that launched designers like Vaughan Oliver and David Carson into design stardom.
Emigre published 69 issues in a range of formats, from tabloid to paperback book, before closing in 2005.
If you have a chance check out the show and see for yourself. “Emigre Magazine: Design, Discourse, and Authorship” will run from June 12 to July 14, 2017. The show has been co-curated by Francisca Monteiro and Rick Poynor.