NYLON Magazine: November design critique

November Overall Design Rating: 4.8 / 5

The America issue, Rachel Bilson cover

Alright, officially my favorite issue. It just seemed like everything was planned to a tee. I loved all of the “hand drawn” elements throughout the issue. The content was original and didn’t seem repetitive of the past two issues I’ve read (which tends to happen with other magazines).

What worked:

Illustrations in this issue were awesome.

Seriously. I can’t say enough good things about them! You can tell a lot of thought was put into each illustration and that the artist went the extra step to put the finishing details on it. I especially enjoyed the ‘Merica bald eagle wearing the sunglasses.


– The overall layout of the must have (“mass appeal”) sections really improved from the last issue; they’re so much easier to read and don’t overwhelm me. The “face value” page was really well designed- especially liked the illustration of Dr. Brandt!

Page 72 “Shop America”

The photo clippings were a great choice to help style the page. It shows the extra effort of the designer to not just slap photo and copy on the page and call it done.

Page 78 – 79 “Free Style”

Love the illustrations throughout this spread. Adding just a touch of color helps keep the reader interested without overwhelming them. Also, the choice to make each illustration size different helps balance the design.

Page 85 “Keep Sake”

What a cool craft! Seriously can’t wait to make this. At first I was going to comment that the photos weren’t large enough for the reader to see step-by-step, but I revoked that thought after realizing they were perfectly fine.

Page 96 “Greatest Hits”

Thank you, NYLON, for finally understanding that when showcasing watches readers want three things: designer, price and an up-close view of the face. No one else seems to understand this simple request. Simple, but great job designing this article.  Also, a sidenote, the model’s facial expression made me laugh every time I turned the page.

Page 107 – 111 “Beauty Blender”

Love that I can compare the looks all at once (page 107) or look at the up-close photo (makes it easier to see the details and imitate it).

Radar section (115-129)

Radar had it together this issue. Every page entertained me and I loved the “Bands Across America” feature. Separating bands by location was a great idea. Engaging content and well-executed design. My only complaint is that after reading that I spent 3 hours downloading music. Thanks for providing the excuse to procrastinate, NYLON.

What didn’t:

 Page 80-81 “Apple of my eye”

Each page individually looks awesome, but as a spread…eek. The vibrant colors on the right completely clash with the musk, fall design on the left. Neither page is an advertisement so maybe there was miscommunication or a tight deadline?

America issue: wait, why?

I love America just as much as the next gal, but why denote November 2011 as the America issue? Why not July  or November 2012 (when there’s a presidential election)? Hmm, still thinking this one over.

Also, it should be noted that I enjoyed the Bare Minimum and Rachel Bilson articles. Just sayin’.

– Emily Paige


NYLON Magazine: Comparing the design of Sept, Oct issues

I apologize for this review coming in later than I had hoped. Unfortunately it took 9 weeks to receive my subscription of NYLON in the mail from when I placed the order (arghhh).

When reading NYLON, it appears there are a few style choices that readers can always count on: faux highlighted headlines, a handful of typefaces and great, original content. The design remains fairly consistent in typeface choices from issue to issue. I believe they use Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk for headlines and Akkurat for the typewritten.

Below is a comparison of the two covers. As you can see the covers are almost identical in their colors, layout and type sizes.

Even throughout the magazine headlines are always lowercase. Sprinkled on a few pages is hand drawn type. I love this- it makes the magazine seem so much more personal. The department and section have clever, cutesy names. This works well in print but you’d never be able to do this on the web. Same for the headlines. Various articles, such as “drink of the month,” include sketched illustrations. This works well and contrasts the gritty images used throughout the magazine. Every issue seems very raw without being brash.

The TOC is the same in both issues which is the standard for most magazines. The layouts of recurring pages is pretty consistent in both magazines. One thing I noticed is NYLON’s ability to section off content without using borders or boxes. The magazine uses headlines and decks to frame each article. This is easier said than done and I think they’re doing a great job. Of course, they do reserve artsy borders for a few pages, but not many.

September Overall Design Rating: 4.2/5

What worked:
Wow, this is a gigantic issue. The feature of Christina Ricci was well done. The post-production treatment of the photos in addition to the typeface choices gave it an awesome “vintage feel.” I love how they handled the page numbers for this feature. Little decisions like that really help to bring the spread to another level. The fashionista department did an excellent job laying out their spreads as well.

What didn’t work:
Although the fashionista department overall did a great job (especially News) the design of “Ticket to Ride” article bothered me. It was too messy and difficult for the reader to enjoy. The writing was fabulous, but the position of the headline in the lower right threw me off. I know NYLON has done this before and it has worked well. However this story, which was describes a model who’s also an equestrian, didn’t. Too harsh and unorganized.

October Overall Design Rating 4.5/5

What worked:
Loved, loved, loved this issue! Great work! Although considerably smaller in content than September, the October issue did a fabulous job experimenting with layout/typography without confusing their readers. The “Culture Club” section is much more organized in this issue, giving it a cleaner feel. Normally, I don’t like typefaces that look like someone smeared paint, but the staff chose a happy medium in the “Just a Girl” article. Definitely creates an “edgy, yet playful” feel. Also really enjoyed the “Black Magic” illustration on page 116-17. What a clever idea instead of just using photographs!

What didn’t work:
The “Hey, baby” makeup article was a little too cluttered for my taste. My eye was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to look first. By eliminating two of these “must-haves,” the reader would be able to focus on the individual product (like the Night Shade article). Also, a nit-picky suggestion: the article “Sweet Talk” in the supercute! (which is supercute that you call it that) section looks like “Sweet Tall” at first. Fixing the headline so it stands out more prominently would be ideal.

Keep up the great work, NYLON designers. I’m excited to receive my November issue!

Emily Stewart

Advertisements + NYLON: QR codes galore

One thing I noticed in the very first issue of NYLON was their choice of advertisements. Even though they chose A-List companies, the ads didn’t have A-List celebrities in them like usual. They use regular models (not that that truly exists) who I think sell the product better.

The majority of the advertisements reflect the edgy, hipster style of the magazine. The type was harsher in these ads compared to what you’d see in Marie Claire or Vogue. Many of the ads included QR codes, which I’ve been noticing everywhere lately. Unless the code leads to a coupon or cool YouTube video, then what is the point? The majority of the people I’ve talked to agree that it’s more time-consuming to pull up the QR app and snap the picture than to type in the mobile web address. I think it’s just one of those things people do to say, “Oh, cool. Look what I can do!”

Semi-effective use of QR code in NYLON

Macy’s advertisement | 30-second video of the photo shoot

Not-so-effective use of QR code in NYLON:

Smashbox advertisement | Leads to Smashbox website

QR codes. Just another example of how usability defines everything.

PS: Sorry for the crappy quality of the photos. They were taken on Photo Booth, haha.

First experience reading NYLON

If it weren’t for my friend, Michelle, I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to the wonderful magazine NYLON. She interned at their NYC office this summer as a graphic designer and absolutely loved it.

Since the September 2011 issue (denoted “The TV Issue” is my first time reading NYLON, I wanted to document my reaction to it. As the semester progresses, I’ll critique the decisions the staff made, but before so I need to gather an understanding of the magazine.

My experience reading NYLON was an enjoyable one. Part of me wanted to clip out every article and assemble a “things to buy” list. The other part of me wanted to keep every beautifully designed page untouched. As I scoured the content, I gathered that this magazine is supposed to be “edgy and fresh.” Like every magazine strives to do, its purpose is to inform readers of what’s going to be in style, not just what’s popular right now.

Pages are filled with tips on how to achieve a certain look or tidbits about products that are going to be released. The magazine contains profiles on fashion designers, actresses, musicians and other leaders in entertainment. The articles don’t seem to focus on just “A-List” stars, but instead on people doing innovative and exciting things in the industry. This issue’s primary focus is on TV although it doesn’t overwhelm me as a reader.

This magazine targets young women who are the first to try new things, despite others raising their eyebrows. It appeals to women who friends go to for finding out about the latest music artist or YouTube video. Perfect, NYLON. I think we’ll be getting along just fine 🙂