Art Director Andrew Kner: A Tribute

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On Aug. 28, 2016, longtime Print Creative Director Andrew Kner passed away. During his lifetime, he impacted countless audiences. After graduating from Yale and spending time with Esquire and Look, Kner joined the New York Times as art director for the Sunday Book Review. By 1970, he was executive art director for the New York Times Promotion Department.

“I worked in the Promotion Dept of The NY Times when Andy was our art director. He was a special person who had great artistic vision for the projects that our department produced and he hired the best creative talents to fulfill them. He was also my mentor and very kind. It was the best of times. My deepest condolences to Carol and the entire family.” —Sandy Geis

During his time with Print (1963–1999), Kner art directed (and designed) a number of iconic issues and covers for the magazine. Steven Heller gathered some of the best in his book Covering Print: 75 Covers, 75 Years, shared below.

Print XVII:III, May/June 1963

Print XVII:III, May/June 1963

“The theme for this issue, Print Media: Circa 1963, was a strange amalgam with a cover that was equally as strange. It was, in fact, the second installment of the January/February 1963 issue, which had been devoted to ‘Great Print Media Success Stories.’ The editors noted that their ‘intention was to beat the drums for the print medium—a joyful noise, richly deserved.’ Continuing with parts II and III, Print featured sections on ‘Changing Trends in Five Major Print Categories,’ including an article on the Container Corporation of America’s veteran designer, Albert Kner (Andrew P. Kner’s father), and packaging of the future. Part III showed ‘Capsule Print Media Success Stories,’ including a look at Monocle magazine, art directed by Lou Klein and Phil Gips.”

Print XIX:IV, July/August 1965

Print XIX:IV, July/August 1965

“Many of Print’s issues were offering readers detailed reports and careful analysis on a variety of themes, including the hot ticket of Graphic Design for the Performing Arts. This included film posters, film titles, TV graphics, TV promotion and graphics for live performances. The market for graphics in these genres was growing, and Print rightly saw an opening for coverage. [Kner] took on the challenge of designing graphics to represent all of these, and he accomplished this simply and without fanfare. Print’s subtle covers were often its best.”

Print XX:IV, July/August 1966

Print XX:IV, July/August 1966

“This cover served as a subtly profound visual commentary—a sampling of the world’s red, white and blue national flags, including the U.S. and North Korea. The issue’s lead story on the subject of the graphics of dissent asked the question, “Who says public affairs magazines have to be visually dull?” Another story, ‘Graphic Uplift in Downtown Chicago,’ provided some balance, exploring how civic banners and posters played a part in the city’s revitalization. These are just two examples of how Print foresaw the role of graphic design in socio-political discourse and brought it smartly into the emerging design discourse.”

Print XXIV:III, May/June 1970

Print XXIV:III, May/June 1970

“Print’s political coverage often generated protest letters from readers who strongly objected to what they perceived as New York liberal partisanship sullying their design coverage. By 1970, feminism was a long-overdue fact of American life, but it was still a controversial subject. [Kner’s] cover, a witty sample of the ultra-romantic ‘Liberty Leading the People’ by Eugene Delacroix, represented the story ‘Women’s Lib and Women Designers.’ The piece noted that, even then, women’s salaries were lower than men’s. Surprise?!”

“I knew Andy when I worked for Print magazine. He was a wonderful, kind and talented man. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.” –Gloria Mason

We reached out to Charlie Hess, Print’s Associate Art Director from the mid to late ‘80s. The two men worked closely together, and Hess offered kind words in memory of Kner.

“Andy Kner grew up in Chicago with my mother. When I graduated from Columbia and needed a legit job she introduced me to her high school friend Andy. My timing must have been right, and I was happy for a real design job. Little did I know how much it would shape my life.

Andy was warm, kind and gracious from day one. He taught me how to paste up the magazine from scratch. For you millennials that meant ordering the type, cutting it up, waxing the b
ack, pasting it down on boards by hand, and making corrections with an Exacto knife. Eventually those boards, with all the FPO art blocked in, would ship to China, and a month or two later it would be sent back on a slow boat to America. It was a detailed and tedious process and I couldn’t have loved it any more. All the basic compositional skills that I still use today came from that analog process. And Andy, in his quiet, professorial way, gently nudged me in the right direction.

I had a front row seat for the Regional Design Annual judging every year. We would have piles of entries coming in each day. Andy, Marty and Carol would cut and cut until they couldn’t cut any more. They were always thoughtful in their choices, and respectful of the work. Only looking back do I realize how much that influenced me; not just recognizing the obvious winners, but especially seeing the work that just wasn’t quite good enough. When I do portfolio reviews now I always remember what I learned watching them judge.In his typically low key way he encouraged me to take classes and see lectures. At Parson’s I saw a presentation of an up-and-coming art director from Texas named Fred Woodward. I was inspired by the work and got up the nerve to pitch a feature story on Fred to Andy. He recognized my enthusiasm, and with Marty and Carol’s blessing, even let me right the story. Once again, a life changer.

Andy was Old School. He taught by example. He never yelled. It was never about ego. It was always about the work. Again, all this I carry inside me decades later.When I saw Steve Heller’s piece about Andy and his passing, I went to Google images to find photos of Andy in his prime, the era that I knew him best. He was a big time art director. Of course there would be dozens of great pictures of him, from the magazine, from teaching, from the agency. Much to my surprise there was just the one simple low resolution image Steve posted, later in Andy’s life. And that tells you all you need to know about Andy — it was never about Andy!”

More covers from Kner’s time as art director:

Print XVI:V, September/October 1962 Andrew Kner

Print XVI:V, September/October 1962:Chermayeff & Geismar Associates (cover design)Andrew Kner (art director)

“In 1962, the design industry saw big changes, and Print did too. … Print news in 1962 included the addition of Martin Fox as executive editor (with Arnold Farber as editor) and Andrew P. Kner as art director.”

Andy Kner

“New York Barbara Nessim was one of the first significant women illustrators working in a primarily male-dominated profession…”

Print XXVIII:V, September/October 1974

Print XXVIII:V, September/October 1974:István Orosz (cover design)Andrew Kner (art director)

“István Orosz (born 1951) is one of Hungary’s most prolific artists. He was just beginning his illustrious career when he conceived his popular, transformational…alphabet as a cover.”

Print XXXII:VI, November/December 1978

Print XXXII:VI, November/December 1978:

Jeff Lefkowitz (cover design)

Andrew Kner (art director)

“In 1978, Brooklyn-born Jack Lefkowitz was a bit of a sensation. His work was startling for the least likely magazine imaginable for award-winning design: The Industrial Launderer…”

From left to right: Print XXXIII:VI, November/December 1979: Robert Weaver (cover illustrator); Print XXXV:III, May/June 1981: Art Spiegelman (cover illustrator); Print XXXVI:III, May/June 1982: Jean-Jacques Sempé (cover artist); Print XXXIX:I, January/February 1985: Cipe Pineles (cover artist); Print XLI:III, May/June 1987: Gottfried Helnwein (cover artist); Print XLII:I, January/February 1988: Edward Gorey (cover artist); Print XLVII:I, January/February 1993: Edward Sorel (cover artist); Print XLVII:VI, November/December 1993: Milton Glaser (cover artist); Print XLIX:III, May/June 1995: Chip Kidd (cover designer); Print L:III, May/June 1996: Paula Scher/Pentagram (cover design); Print LIII:III, May/June 1999: Brian Cronin (cover illustrator)