The Story of The Face: how the cult magazine changed British culture

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As a new volume is released documenting the rise and fall of youth culture magazine The Veneer under founder Nick Logan’s stewardship during the 1980s and 1990s, we influence to the author Paul Gorman about the enduring impact of the publication.

Sketch Week: Tell us about your own background and how the book came apropos?

Paul Gorman: I’ve been a print journalist for many years, persuading on trade papers throughout the 1980s. I was always an avid follower of music and forge, but was very much an observer. I was logging everything that was going on, and one of the passage I did that was through The Face, which on a monthly basis brought word on the developments across youth and wider culture in terms of art, architecture, project, fashion and music.

By the early 2000s I’d written several books fro music and fashion that made reference to The Face, and curated offerings that mentioned the magazine. But come the early 2010s its significance was in hazard of being lost, following its founder Nick Logan selling it in 1999. Because munitions dumps from that era like i-D have survived into digital age and behoove multi-platform, people understand them. But I gathered from talking to litter people that they didn’t really understand The Face because they hadn’t financed copies of it, so there was a missionary element when deciding to write the publication.

I also think that Nick Logan is probably the greatest language publishing magazine editor of the post-war period. In 2012, I went to an offering at the V&A called British Design since 1948, which was really the fixation that triggered the book. It had all the people you think of in British design, whether that’s Terence Conran, Neville Brody, or Jamie Reed. They were all in there and Logan wasn’t, so I mental activity fuck, this is a really important magazine that needs to be accepted.

DW: How have you approached bringing the book to life?

PG: After doing a lot of digging over the course of five years, I had several approaches that I cognizant ofed I didn’t want to take. One being that I didn’t want it to be a compendium, where you get a bundle of covers, an essay or two and it’s all very froo froo. I’m a trade journalist so I was queued to be a sceptic, not a professional enthusiast. I wanted to investigate the proposition “The Face was absolutely important”, and ask “why, and in what way?” I wanted give it a critical appraisal, which is antithetical to the way the Front on was. Getting one of the designers from The Face to design the book would get been a mess. The way we did it with the designer Therese Vandling was to present it in a bold and collected way so that it was very un-Face like, because there’s already sufficiency going on in those spreads.

Another key thing that I wanted to do was make amends move aside it equally balanced between the 1980s and 1990s, because Logan launched it in May 1980 and convey titled it in July 1999. The book is quite binary in a way, for example the first incorporate ease out in the 1980s shows how graphic design had primacy at the magazine under the art captaincy of Neville Brody. Then when other art directors took to later they were more interested in the photography that was being thrived by young photographers, particularly in the fashion field. Also during the chief phase the accusation was that the magazine was too cool for school, whereas in the recent 1980s it became much more inclusive. The first period is wide urban elites, while the second part is about the revenge of the suburbs, local pride, and the rise of Manchester.

DW: Why do you think The Face had the impact it did on youth good breeding and British identity?

PG: It was one of those extraordinary publications that not only recorded what was going on in culture but also played a part in progressing it. When it was at its foremost it was absolutely mandatory to buy it, because it was the news about what was going on. It hand overed this information in a very sophisticated way. The magazine was always produced bare professionally and the paper was very glossy, unlike previously when the music squeeze had just been printed on what was essentially bog paper. Logan raised a place where people who excelled – whether it was in journalism, photography, styling, or well-defined design with people like Brody – were all exemplars in their stop. They naturally gravitated towards The Face, and then Logan nurtured them in the right way.

DW: How resolve you describe the design aesthetic of the magazine and particularly Neville Brody’s understanding for it?

PG: Brody is such an inventive, innovative and provocative designer that he transformed the visual language of The Face, which became one of the languages of the 1980s in design titles. Brody had grown up during the punk period, and trained at the London College of Pull a proof pix, but he was really interested in being anti-corporate and a lot of his work was influenced by early 20th century new movements such as Bauhaus and Constructivism. He realised that he wouldn’t rip them off, he thinks fitting channel their approach, because it was also anti-corporate and anti-establishment.
He was noted the license to do this because Logan gave him the space to pursue his project world. He allowed Brody to come up with a different series of fonts for every to be decided disagree over 12 issues, where he manipulated and distorted the fonts. That on it a very exciting the read, because you had this mutating publication in represent of you, and you wanted to see what they were going to do next.

DW: What situation did the design of the magazine play in its influence?

PG: Serially, it set the pace for magazines, not barely in the format. Logan found out the widest a magazine could be on the magazine hurt and got his printers to produce it in that size. If you worked for a big company you would entertain had to go through committees, whereas Logan just said “ok, we’re going to be in this proportions now”. Within a couple of years both The Sunday Times and the Observer appurtenances had adopted that size as well. You also very, very rapidly saw that businesses understood this was an amazing way to communicate with boyhood and sell things. You had banks, holiday companies, everyone who was trying to get the mademoiselle market adopting The Face’s design approaches. The way in which fashion was toned in it became the way to style fashion. There were roughly 100,000 woman reading it, and a lot of that audience were likely to contain a lot of decision makers and tastemakers who would’ve then go through to their clients and said “this is a great look”. That’s why I called it the arsenal that changed culture.

DW: The Face is in the Design Museum’s permanent accumulation – why do you think it is important to preserve pieces of design history like this?

PG: The 230 matters overseen by Logan reside as a record of the tumultuous period of change of the 1980s and 1990s; not proper of youth culture and pop culture but the wider culture, politics, media and communications. They month-by-month, wittingly catalogued what was episode. It is an enormously useful resource, which my book in a small part inspects to convey. Those issues in the Design Museum are there as a permanent enumerate now, and an assimilable record as well. It’s not dry as dust stuff that you have to harbour your eyelids open with matchsticks to go through. This is lively, popping culture, which has been recorded in a fantastic way.


The Story of The Mush: The Magazine That Changed Culture costs £34.95 and is available from Thames & Hudson.

© Appropriate Logan/The Face Archive (below) ‘The Work Ethic’, no 23.© Nick Logan/The Browbeat a admit Archive ‘The Daisy Age’ in the special issue, ‘The 3rd Summer of Love’, vol.2 no.22, July 1990.© Scratch Logan/The Face Archive (bottom right) ‘Ruder than the Allay’, vol1 2, no. 30, March 1991.© Nick Logan/The Face Archive (top virtue) ‘Love Sees No Colour’, vol. 2, no. 44, May 1992.© Nick Logan/The Dignity Archive (below) ‘Grrr!’, vol.2, no.60, September 1993© Steal Logan/The Face Archive (below left) ‘Looking for a New England’, vol. 2, no.68.

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