Illustration is a much misunderstood discipline, so the Association of Illustrators (along with editor John O’Reilly) deserves congratulations for sticking with Varoom!, its quarterly magazine on the subject. They’ve just published their 28th issue, but the publication has been through several different formats before settling on the current one, a newsprint tabloid that perfectly suits the content.
For most of its life, Varoom! has been a more traditional A4 magazine format; in its first Non-Format designed incarnation this was based around a strong near-abstract typography that complemented the featured illustration work. The later, more traditional Fernando Gutierrez designed magazine was less interesting, but the same studio has successfully overseen its move to the tabloid format in 2011.
In this format the magazine has been quietly getting on with a series of strong themed issues; quietly, but effectively. The large pages show off imagery well– see this spread (above) by Marion Bantjes – and the slightly scrappy feel of the unbound pages hints at a sketchbook quality that suits the content.
Illustrator Paul Davis is a regular contributor, in this case sharing his thoughts on the issue theme ‘Fashion’ in writing and pen (above).
It also regularly looks at magazines, a prime source of illustration work. This issue includes a look back at Flair magazine and its editor Fleur Cowles by Teal Triggs (the issue is highly recommended for this alone). The bold, monochrome headline with plenty of space is a typical design.
It regularly looks at independent magazines, and in this issue I take a look at the extraordinary illustrated magazine Herself. Other stories include excerpts from Leanne Shapton’s book ‘Women in Clothes’; the work of Quentin Jones (cover, at top); a look at how Prada uses illustration; and a reflection on changing styles in children’s book illustration by Bridgit Strevens-Marzo.
Varoom! is a great celebration of illustration, and does a superb job placing the form in a broader context.
(Disclosure: I am contributing editor to the magazine)