05 Mar

Urban Outfitters’ Slant, part 2

Design Study Collection: David Mazzucchelli. From Slant no. 3 for Urban Outfitters. Collage by Winston Smith.

Having already covered some background and intent for Urban Outfitter’s mid-90s promotional magazine, Slant, I thought I’d take a look inside. Slant presented notably few advertisements for Urban’s products, instead trading in cool by association. Contributors were paid a relatively modest $250, so no one was getting rich off their work for the company. The magazine was pretty remarkable for the quality of its art and writing, but most impressive was its unfailingly consistent anti-establishment tone. Art Chantry, godfather of low-tech design, supplied several pieces. Below, he presents the DIY manifesto – “Don’t Buy It! Don’t Listen to Them! Don’t Be a Fool!! Do It Yourself!!!!”

Design Study Collection: David Mazzucchelli. Slant no. 3 for Urban Outfitters. Art on right by Art Chantry. Now go buy something.

The nine issues are populated by obscure and not-so-obscure (then) underground writers and artists. There’s work from distinctive illustrators like Joe Ciardiello, David Sandlin, and Edwin Fotheringham (aka Mr. Fotheringham); comics from Chris Ware and David Mazzucchelli; collage from Dead Kennedys collaborator Winston Smith; articles by Porkchops & Applesauce editor Lyndsey Parker and WFMU’s Lowest Common Denominator editor Rex Doane.

Design Study Collection: David Mazzucchelli. Slant no. 5 for Urban Outfitters. Illustrations by Joe Ciardiello.

Design Study Collection: David Mazzucchelli. Slant no. 6 for Urban Outfitters. Illustration by David Sandlin.

Design Study Collection: David Mazzucchelli. Slant no. 2 for Urban Outfitters. Illustration by Edwin Fotheringham.

Design Study Collection: David Mazzucchelli. Slant no. 2 for Urban Outfitters. Comics by Chris Ware and Steven Cerio.

Design Study Collection: David Mazzucchelli. Slant no. 3 for Urban Outfitters. Comic by David Mazzucchelli.

Mark Dancey, co-founder of the late great Ann Arbor-based music magazine Motorbooty, which was clearly a template for Slant, contributed this poster, ready for your dorm room wall.

Design Study Collection: David Mazzucchelli. Slant no. 3 for Urban Outfitters. Illustration by Mark Dancey.

Luc Sante, who was already established (he’d published the acclaimed Low Life in 1991), wrote about the grand New York tradition of finding free stuff on the street. “Sasha Frere-Jones of Ui” described touring with Stereolab and Trans Am (he found a more effective way to make a living when he became music critic for The New Yorker in 2004).

Design Study Collection: David Mazzucchelli. Slant no. 7 for Urban Outfitters. Article by Luc Sante.

Design Study Collection: David Mazzucchelli. Slant no. 7 for Urban Outfitters. Article by Sasha Frere-Jones.

Over the course of just nine issues, you can see a rise in the magazine’s ambitions; the Sante and Frere-Jones articles were in the same issue, along with a Kenneth Anger piece on Berlin, and an article called “Inside Miss Los Angeles” by Jerry Stahl (of Permanent Midnight fame). The publishers of Slant had designs on moving beyond the realm of freebie promotions (which, I believe, never materialized); the last few issues included an offer for a year-long subscription (3 issues) for $4.50. It’s easy to imagine a more independent Slant, but that wouldn’t be nearly as fun.

Previously: Part 1.

This post also appears on our Picturebox blog.

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05 March 2012
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Design Study Collection
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