• Steven Heller

Magazine Heaven

The deadline for the Regional Design Awards has been extended, but only until April 30. Your judges: Sagi Haviv, Rebeca Méndez, Nancy Skolos, Alexander Isley, Chad Michael, Gail Anderson and Justin Peters. Enter today.

After Joseph Stalin died in 1953 and went to hell, there ensued a political thaw that allowed a brief heaven for magazines. In Poland it was believed, writes design historian Ewa Satalecka (who also supplied the images), that the Communist-sanctioned Women’s League saw a need to create a magazine for “women with a higher education.” With Stalin in his grave, the Polish Communist government “approval and allocation of paper” created such a periodical titled Ty i Ja (You and Me). The first issue was founded in 1960 by the journalists Teresa Kuczynska and Roman Jurys, and designed by the great Roman Cieslewicz. The magazine, indeed one of the most radically designed of its era, lasted until 1973 when “another team of decision-makers came to the conclusion that it held to the ‘wrong political line.'”

The magazine was influenced to a certain degree by American magazines like Alexey Brodovitch’s design for Harper’s Bazaar, Paul Rand’s Direction and Henry Wolf’s Esquire but with its own visual character. When Cieslewicz left Poland for Paris in 1963, the graphic design was continued in order by Franciszek Starowieyski and Julian Palka (with associates Elzbieta Strazalecka and Bogdan Zochowski, who later built their own reputations). Among the illustrators were Andrzej Dudzinski (who eventually temporarily moved to New York and illustrated for the New York Times) Tomasz Jura, Edward Krasinskik Jan lenica and Henryk Tomaszewski (whose work influenced the Grapus collective in Paris). Another later emigre, Andrzej Czeczot, who also worked for the Times, was put on trial in Warsaw for his work.

At the time, despite the radical look of the magazine, strict government censorship by the Central Press, Publications and Control Office, held sway over text and image.

In 1965 Strazalecka and Zochowski became Ty i Ja‘s sole designers. “Sensitive to the beauty of typography,” writes Satalecka, “the Zochowskis copied typefaces that took their fancy from foreign magazines or the catalogs issued by Monotype, Mecanorma and Letraset” They were also influenced by the Push Pin Graphic and inspired by Twen, Esquire, Eros and Avant Garde. With phototype available, Milton Glaser’s Baby Teeth, Baby Fat and Kitchen showed up along with typographic illustrations suggestive of Herb Lubalin and Seymour Chwast.

Eventually the Central Committee of the Communist Part of the People’s Republic of Poland, in the name of peace and concern for the social good, put an end to what they believed were the “irresponsible whims and fascinations of Ty i Ja.”

#magazinedesign #TyiJa

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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.View all posts by Steven Heller →