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Jean Hauptman reviews eDesign Magazine

Jean Hauptman reviews eDesign Magazine
A Creative COW "Real World" Product Review



Jean Hauptman reviews eDesign Magazine
Jean Hauptman Jean Hauptman

©2003 Jean Hauptman and Creativecow.net. All rights reserved.


Article Focus:
Broadcast Designer, Jean Hauptman takes a look at a great design magazine called eDesign and counts this as one of those "must have" subscriptions. She also includes an interview with Publisher Howard Cadel.

You haven't heard of eDesign?

Probably because copies are snapped up the moment they hit the stands (I've been able to snag only two at our Barnes & Noble). Subscribing is the only way to avoid disappointment.

This magazine has many levels.

First, it's packed with links to keep graphics artists at the visual forefront.

Once you're satiated on eye candy, surf the articles. Most are thoughtful, provocative and beautifully illustrated. You'll find a vast range of topics - from trend-setters like One9nine, to marketing tips, to the inside scoop on the state of the industry - with emphasis on interactive.

John Maeda bucks the trends in his approach to teaching digital design at MIT. It's one of my favorite articles in the December issue.

February eDesign: "Pinhole photography" with a digital camera; Top designers give tips on hiring artists - plus how to keep them inspired. Need a good laugh? Check out Paul Davis' irreverent illustrations on web dating services. For marketing strategy, read Old School vs Newfangled - Cool article, neat layout.

I was especially pleased to see an environmental piece on the hazards of computer waste. October issue.

If you saw the June issue, you know about GASBOOK, and that David Lynch uses After Effects on a Mac. You'll also see how a condom can make an elegant vase. (Warning: Enjoy the Gasbook visuals but BE CAREFUL about ordering from them. According to the 6-page eDesign spread, each Gasbook issue comes in a kit with T-shirts, CDs and other goodies. 9 months after the article appeared I went to the Gasbook website and ordered a $40 back issue. I received only a dime-thin book of underwhelming graphics. Perhaps the recession has taken its toll.)

For many reasons, including this past experience, I would love to see a section for readers feedback.

On rare occasion an eDesign article misses the mark:

Motion designers will smile at the breathless praise given a digital course at a famous arts university: "Sentences fly across the computer screen, words disappear, and fonts literally blow up in resulting student projects."

This next statement is exceptionally clueless. It's from an article about OSX by Marshal M. Rosenthal:

"Apple's Macintosh computer is a cult item that, while not as popular as the PC platform (Apple's share of the worldwide personal computer market was only 2.5 percent in 2001...".


Cult item?

Most print designers work on the Mac. Most top designers like Hillman Curtis work on the Mac. Almost all top 2-d broadcast design firms in Hollywood and in NYC are Mac shops. Final Cut Pro editing facilities are blooming all over Los Angeles.

Not as popular?

It makes no sense to include numbers from the vast office and consumer market in this kind of comparison. By this logic, Digibeta is a cult item and VHS is more popular.

Fortunately, misinformed writing is the exception.

Overall, eDesign has earned its Silver Medal for "Magazine of the Year" plus 10 merit awards from the Society of Publication Designers annual competition. "Not bad for a magazine just completing its first year," says publisher Howard Cadel.

Additional bonuses from eDesign include an informative website http://www.edesignmag.com/ Plus an online graphic design bookstore at designersbookstore.com.

Publisher Howard Cadel took time from his busy schedule to answer a few questions:

Howard, what effect is the recession having on web design? Are lower budgets crimping creativity?

The recession caused large interactive firms and independent consultants to first reduce their prices and in many case to go out of business. On a positive note most designers are now becoming part of the creative process for their company's or clients' online presence. Sometimes when the budgets are lower it actually puts a premium on creativity rather than bells and whistles.

What are your worst fears about the economy?

The economy has turned what was an unprecedented amount of advertising pages into a struggle for each page. When a start up like eDesign survives in this type of environment it should be positioned to do very well when the economy finally starts to grow again.

Much design on network TV - with exception - is stale and generic. Too frequently, there is reluctance to allow artists to veer too far away from 1980.Do you think that the freshness in web design will eventually give way to numbing conformity?

I think because of the unlimited and growing amount of Web sites there will always be fresh and new looks and of course as time passes like with all design and style what was old becomes new again.

What drew you to the publishing end of interactive?

Publishing is what I do. I was the Publisher of PRINT Magazine from 1981 until I sold it last fall. I was also founder and Publisher of HOW Magazine which I sold in 1988. I started developing the eDesign concept in the Spring of 2000. I had thoughts of a publication about interactive design before that but assumed that this type of coverage would probably be best accomplished electronically. Then I met several interactive designers who emphatically said they would love a printed publication in their field. I followed up on this and concluded that this field needed and deserved a publication of its own. This was at the peak of the dot com frenzy. I never really hesitated when that bubble burst.

While the stand alone, end all and be all dot com model virtually ceased to exist nearly every business and service is now using the web and other interactive media to promote and brand their products and services. The use of interactive media and coordinating it with traditional media is now something every designer deals with or at least wants to know about.

What are the challenges specific to publishing a magazine for the digital field?

I think the biggest challenge is the difficulty in showing on a printed page material that is better presented interactively. I was consumed with the idea that this publication would have to have a look completely unique and different from any other publication. To make a long story short I presented this challenge to eDesign's creative director Anke Stohlmann who has exceed my wildest dreams in creating a look and brand for eDesign.

What would you do if you weren't publishing?

I would hope if I was not publishing I would be golfing.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

eDesign is one of 3 or 4 must-have periodicals for digital artists:

  1. The oldest of the great is the Swedish magazine, EFX Graphics and Design. Filled with edgie, opulent graphics, EFX offers unique insight into our software, tutorials and reviews. You'll find cool ways to use applications that are snubbed by the American digital crowd. One issue will have you trolling eBay for obscure, long-forgotten apps.

  2. RES Magazine places you directly inside the cutting-edge digital scene. (Clips from WAKING LIFE, the feature film animation created entirely on the Mac, were shown at RESFEST a year before the film was even completed). RES also scopes out underground arts happenings and the hippest music. The DVD alone is worth the subscription price.

  3. DV Magazine has superb regular columnists like Jay Rose on Audio, Frank Capria on postproduction, and of course, the Meyers on Motion Graphics. (I frequently disagree with some of DV's product comparisons, and would caution anyone against making a purchase based on a single trade magazine review. Many feel that trades tend to favor their highest paying advertisors.)

  4. ...and eDesign

Cow Rating: I give it 5 COWs!



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