Innovation & Influence: Magazine Cover Designs

During the 1960s George Lois’s controversial cover designs for Esquire sold magazines, lots of magazines. Lois had a firm grasp on the culture and through images like pop art icon Andy Warhol drowning in a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup and the horrified statement of a soldier in bold white letters "Oh my God: We hit a little girl" against a solid black background stirred further public debate on issues like pop culture, racism, feminism and Vietnam. Now his designs have reached iconic stature and today NYC’s Museum of Modern Art opens a new exhibit called “George Lois: The Esquire Covers” featuring 32 of Lois’s 92 designs from 1962 to 1972. The exhibit, which runs through March 2009, is not the first time Lois has been recognized for his contribution to magazine cover design nor will it be the last. In 2005 the American Society of Magazine Editors named the best magazine covers of the last 40 years and three of Lois’s covers made the top 10.

See a complete list of the best magazine covers at

Currently running on the west coast is another magazine design exhibit at the University of Southern California Annenberg in Los Angeles called “Cover Stories: Magazine Design in Germany and the U.S., 1920-1970.” This exhibit of magazine covers features graphic design and photojournalism concepts of American and German magazines that heavily influenced public opinion before modern media like television and the Internet. The exhibit runs through May 21, 2008.

For more information on USC Annenberg’s exhibit visit

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Michelle Ryan

About Michelle Ryan

Michelle Ryan is obsessed with good food, great shoes and Alabama football way down South in Savannah, Georgia. She hasn’t met a kitchen gadget she hasn’t at least thought about buying (trying them is another story) and devotes her time to Bikram Yoga, baking and trying to overcome long-held finicky eating habits.