Life Never Dies

Life magazine may have as many lives as the proverbial cat, or maybe the Energizer bunny–it just keeps on going and going. Now it is a website that provides its famous photographic stimulation to users. Before it was a premier photo magazine it was a humor/social magazine (above) founded in 1883 by John Ames Mitchell. Later, edited by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson, it was something of a precursor to The New Yorker. Then in 1936 (below top) publisher Henry Luce bought the name and created a photojournalistic weekly that featured the best images of events and celebs in the country (Howard Richmond designed the format and logo). In the 1970s it fell afoul of diminishing advertising dollars (though circulation was high), and then in the ’80s it was revived again. In more recent times, it was transformed into a newspaper Sunday supplement (below bottom) specializing in uncontroversial features, and then put to rest again–until its new reincarnation on the web. All along, it’s kept a version of its white-lettering-against-a-red-rectangle logo. Its seems like Life will never die–and that’s probably a good thing.

Share your own lively Life memories in the comments.

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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