Emigre’s Lucky Number
By: Steven Heller | October 12, 2009
Emigre magazine ended its notable run with issue #69. But now there is issue #70. Like Larry David’s Seinfeld reunion, this is not just a nostalgic revival but a celebration of 25 years from the auspicious 1984 to 2009 (doesn’t anyone believe in round numbers anymore?), chronicling an incredible history. I just received my advance copy of Emigre No. 70: The Look Back Issue, Selections from Emigre Magazine #1-#69, 1984-2009, Celebrating 25 Years in Graphic Design, edited by Rudy VanderLans (Ginko Press, available in November). Whew, what a title, and what a volume!
It is a rich brick of a book. VanderLans told me, “The most difficult part was editing out all the work that deserves reprinting but simply wouldn’t fit. It’s the opposite of doing the magazine, where I often had to stretch content to fill it.”
It seems inconceivable that 25 years have actually elapsed. Many who will today appreciate the inventions of Emigre weren’t even born then, and others may wonder what the fuss and criticism was about. In fact, out of all the design magazines published during the late 20th century, Emigre was the trigger for the digital revolution that is so endemic to design look, feel, and thinking today.
Always the astute editor, VanderLans not only allows the material in the book to tell the story of the magazine’s–and the field’s–evolution, he also footnotes the history with a little extra booklet (cleverly tucked in a pouch in the binding) titled “Dear Emigre: A Selection of Letters to the Editor.” The Emigre letters (with one of my own included) could in retrospect be seen as the precursor to the blogosphere.
Emigre magazine may not publish any longer, but this volume keeps the history, legacy, and vitality alive (not in that order).