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To judge or not to judge, that is the question

What makes a magazine ugly? Is it the layout or is it how people feel about it? For my newest assignment in my Editorial design class, we were instructed to go out and find an ugly magazine. After many hours in Barnes and Noble and rummaging through my own house to find outdated ugly magazines, a thought occurred to me. If a magazine was really that ugly, why would people buy it? It’s like fashion. People wear ugly clothing all the time, but others aren’t openly telling them their outfits suck, unless they are on t.v. Is it fair to judge a magazine when their readers don’t? It’s rare that Vogue readers are going to look at a car magazine and mock it, mostly because most Vogue readers wouldn’t dare be caught looking at a car magazine. I feel that there is a time and a place, and most magazines that are considered ugly might not be to most of those interested in that particular magazine.


  1. angechilada wrote:

    I think that ugly is in the eye of the designer. What makes a magazine ugly, design-wise would be if it were cluttered, unorganized, hard to read, etc. I think that people subconsciously realize these things, but just accept bad design as a part of life. Designers are able to realize why a magazine design is bad, whereas the general public will just accept it, because they don’t dissect design the way we do.

    Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 7:40 am | Permalink
  2. Matt Tirre wrote:

    It depends a lot on the intended audience as well. Look at all those teen magazines with Justin Bieber or Miley Cirus on the front – they are full of crazy and over saturated colors. The layout is often pretty erratic as well, with all sorts of little gossip/fact bubbles all over the place. Those magazines may give me a headache, but they are perfect for obsessive, bubbly preteen girls.

    To many of those preteen girls, a more upscale, refined magazine might seem like a bad design with its lack of fun colors and glitter.

    A designer may die a little inside every time he/she has to design something that they consider “ugly,” but it sells.

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink
  3. BrittanyHill wrote:

    I have the same assignment right now and I thought the exact same thing. Some magazines are designed for a specific audience. What might be appropriate for that audience might not appeal to me, but that doesn’t make the magazine terribly designed. However, some magazines, especially lower budget ones, can be poorly designed. They are not necessarily ugly, but they definitely need a redesign.

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Permalink
  4. Yili wrote:

    Sometimes I think it is excusable especially when not all the magazines have much budget or much time for design. Each layout does not go through the process of critique, refining, critique, refining as we do in class. People has different ways to approach, some more practical, some more artistic. I see ugly magazines a lot, but I also see some astonishingly beautiful magazines. As long as these beautiful magazines exist, I am happy with the magazine industry.

    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 6:23 am | Permalink