Behind Eye magazine’s 8000 unique covers

by Grace Wang in September 2017
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Art & design

Arguably one of the most authoritative independent design title in the world, Eye magazine is a constant source of inspiration for us. For their latest issue, they’ve done something completely unprecedented with their covers — the 8000 print run sees each magazine carrying a unique cover design. We got in touch with editor John L. Walters to find out more, while he tells us some types that stood out for him in their typography issue…

Why did Eye decide to create 8000 different, unique covers for the issue?
Simon Esterson and I have often discussed using variable data covers, but there hasn’t been a really good reason until now. I interviewed MuirMcNeil about their work – including their parametric typefaces – for the article ‘Pleasure in the process’ in this issue, so a terrific reason (and opportunity) to use the HP Indigo 10000 with Mosaic software was staring us in the face.

The fun we had making this 8000-strong run (and the outstanding results) illustrates the pleasures of process-driven design more than words can say. Of course it couldn’t have happened without MuirMcNeil’s extremely enthusiastic participation in making the 10 ‘seed files’ which feed the Mosaic program and provide the basis for all the covers.

What was your printer, Pureprint’s reaction to it — was it difficult to do?
Not exactly difficult – given the sophistication of the program – but there wasn’t a bound magazine cover precedent as far as we know. The Pureprint staff were magnificent.


This is a type special — what are some specific types that really stood out for you?
The whole ‘Mightier thank the pen’ focuses on typefaces with mathematical/geometrical/non-calligraphic roots: Kabel; the new Novo Typo colour typefaces; MuirMcNeil’s huge body of parametric work.

But I should also point out the ‘guest typefaces’ for this issue, designed by Henrik Kubel of A2-Type: English 1766 and Sunday Clarendon.

94 issue is an incredible feat, but does the editorial team always feel the pressure to innovate and come up with novel designs?
No, not really. The challenge is to find stories, themes and subjects that will engage and entertain and stimulate our readers. And we are always looking out for new writers. (Eye 94 includes articles and reviews by 15 writers new to Eye before.)

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