Signs of Art

Graphis, the pioneering Swiss design magazine founded by Walter Herdeg (1908-1995), published hundreds of the finest covers of any design magazine. Designers, illustrators and artists of all kinds were given a relative free hand under the watchful eyes of Herr Herdeg.

It is difficult to describe the joy I, for one, felt when a new bimonthly issue came through the mail in the familiar cardboard box. It was an event. Sure, there were Print and CA in the United States, and each had good covers. But Graphis covers were exotic by virtue of the European essence.

Most cover images were independent of any text, although most were done by someone featured inside the magazine. Some were even quite abstract, which was unusual for even the most progressive of magazines. And a few actually illustrated the act or process of design and art.

These were usually the most difficult. How to illustrate design and art without showing the cliches of the form—pens, pencils, t-squares, etc. Some artists transcended the commonplace through their artistry, others made the cliches into self-satire. Herewith are a few of the Graphis covers that attempted the difficult task of illustrating design and art. Cliches aside, each cover is exquisite.

(Cover artists from top to bottom: George Giusti (1955), Lee Mason (1974), Ronald Searle (1967), Walter Greider (1966)Bertram A. TH Weihs (1954), Jack Wolfgang Beck (1959), Bernard Willemot (1955)).

Graphis 174

Graphis Graphis

Graphis 126

Graphis 54

Graphis 81

Graphis 57

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  3. My relationship with GRAPHIS goes back to the 50′s, I’m that ‘young’ and most fortunate. Aside from the initial cover thrill, the experience of a new issue was profound, inspirational, and enlightening for a design student. There was nothing better.