Two design magazines officially cease publication
My friend James Leslie Miller noted on Twitter that HOW and Print magazines have officially ceased publication. Their parent company, F+W Media, had declared bankruptcy and the writing had been on the wall for a while that this was the likely outcome. Most of the company’s other publications were auctioned off, but HOW and Print apparently didn’t find a new home.
Early in my career, both magazines were exceptionally influential for me. I was mostly self taught and didn’t have a strong design background. HOW and Print provided me with some of that foundation as I figured out what it meant to be a designer and creative professional.
I always looked forward to the HOW’s design competitions and Print’s Regional Design Annual to see what work was featured. As a young designer, you dreamt of seeing your work in those pages. At some point, Sketchbook B got a typeface design credit for one of Marius’s Secret Species pieces that was accepted into one of the competitions. (Thanks, Marius.)
My favorite feature in HOW was the Workspace section which profiled a creative work environment. I was working in a standard cubicle-filled office and wanted so desperately to work in one of those amazing studios. (I still love visiting a cool creative office and I still work in a cubicle.)
I remember when Abbott Miller, DJ Stout and Pentagram redesigned HOW and Print in 2005. Debbie Millman wrote a recap on Speak Up of a panel discussion addressing the challenges of redesigning a design publication. The recap and a PDF — thankfully still live in the Speak Up archives with comments! — detailed Pentagram’s design process and the care they took in crafting both publications. I used the HOW redesign as a case study for discussion in one of the first college classes I taught.
As I got further along in my career, the content in HOW and Print didn’t seem as relevant for me. I’d still look scan the magazine racks and look for them every time I went to Barnes & Noble, but I stopped buying copies. I guess I’m not the only one that moved on.
In their prime, HOW and Print were the trendsetters in the world of graphic design. Today, the remaining website is a brutalist monument to the challenges of running successful print publications in the digital age.
Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, researcher, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. Follow Bob on Instagram.