Alvin Lustig Look Magazine

Alvin Lustig began his creative career in Los Angeles, California but became increasingly upset with what he thought was a scarcity of a creative community. This drove Alvin to move to New York City in 1944 to find a richer, deeper design community. While in New York, Alvin began working in the design department of the popular bi-weekly magazine, Look Magazine, starting as the first visual research director for the practice. From 1944 to 1945, Alvin designed multiple covers for the in-house publication, known around the office as Staff. Since this periodical would only circulate the office, Alvin Lustig created new and innovative designs for each issue. Not having to keep up with a prescribed visual identity, Alvin was free to explore possibilities through different mediums and styles. The cover featured above as his portfolio piece is one of the most pictorial of the Staff covers and of most of Alvin’s Design work. In this design, Lustig utilizes photomontage which was turned into fragments of images. This piece is beautifully placed on a dominant grid and the photos follow the grid strictly. The grid allows for the eye to flow around the design and take in each pictorial sector. The use of color; white, black, and blue; also forces the viewer’s eyes to circle the design as the darker colors are around the perimeter of the page and the stark white image is in the top center. All of the images in use are very stylized and borderline surreal, adding intrigue. Another interesting design element is that there is no printed title text, however the text becomes one of the elements in a picture. This makes the design more cohesive and appear as a piece of art, not just a cover. In fact, this was Alvin’s goal with the whole series of covers. He turned each cover into a piece of art that set its unique and different from the last. True to Alvin’s form, he not only designed the covers, he also redesigned the physical office space. In fact, redesigning the office space was part of his contract terms he established before working with Look. At the time, Alvin was experimenting with an interior design concept called ‘fluid environment’. Alvin got rid of space designers like cubicles and introduced new, midcentury furniture and played with contrast in materiality. This job became much more than a positon designing house organ covers, it became an opportunity to explore more areas in design and a chance to develop as a designer.

 

“Alvin Lustig.” Alvin Lustig, Modern American Design Pioneer 1915-1955, Kind Company LLC, www.alvinlustig.com/index.php.
Heller, Steven, and Elaine Lustig Cohen. Born Modern: the Life and Design of Alvin Lustig. Chronicle Books, 2010.