Art Direction, Pages

Corn Syrup

04.22.08 | 1 Comment


I was attracted to this issue of Hi Fructose because it had the best (or possibly the only) use of chiaruscuro that I’ve seen recently on the cover of a newsstand magazine. Hi Fructose covers the naive-by-choice school of art making along with publications that include gallery- or illustration- focused books like Juxtapoz, Beautiful Decay, and, to some extent, the grafitti mags.

No question, HiFruc has a cool collection of imagery—ranging from work by people I’d want to hire as illustrators, people I would have wanted to hire if I still worked for a free alt weekly, and a few I’d be scared to be in the same room with. However, it also suffers from many of the excesses of the PunkArtMag genera—sometimes using artwork like backgrounds for type, or cropping painting in ways that damage the effectiveness of the imagery.

It is, of course, a delicate line between the button-down gallery-in-a-book approach of establishment art journals like Art in America and the free-for-all skater mag attitude that pubs like HiFruc ape. In the magazine’s defense, it goes native less frequently than some. The Kimidz(?) spread above, and Kukula (below) seem reasonably responsible blends of design and art elements. But not all HFruc pages are so easy to parse—it would be easy to miss the editorial page on the bottom spread because it visually blends into the ads next door.

Below: Brian Dettmer’s obsessively carved books would hold their own at the American Visionary Museum.

Below: The magazine could do a better job juggling the chaotic ads and art elements it publishes. Stricter advertising standards and more white space would both help.

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