This Month: Beautiful/Decay

Issue: “M”
Frequency: Quarterly
Launched: 1996
Circulation: 40,000
Creative Director/Founder: Amir H. Fallah
Cover Artist: Jesse LeDoux

Mission: “To bridge the gap between art and graffiti, underground and mainstream, high and low art.”

Concept: For most magazines, getting a feature subject to agree to a photo shoot can sometimes be challenging, sure, but once they do, it’s fairly straightforward. But the process is a bit more complicated when they’re asked to design it. Amir H. Fallah, founder of Beautiful/Decay, a Los Angeles-based quarterly with credibility in the ever-expanding urban-art-music-design market (Res, Flaunt, Mass Appeal), spends a long time working with artists featured in his magazine on designing covers. “We don’t want them to treat it as a job but rather a piece they can proudly add to their body of work,” says Fallah.

Production: Here, Fallah enlisted artist and feature subject Jesse LeDoux to design the cover, armed with a few general instructions—like working the magazine’s clover logo and cover lines into the illustration. “I gave him the option of using a fluorescent color, and he went to town,” says Fallah. “He has an illustrative style that is minimal yet iconic.” As an artist himself, Fallah knows when to loosen on creative control. “The artists have as much freedom as possible, says Fallah. And that, coupled with the exposure factor, amounts to a free cover design for the publisher. Says Fallah: “So far, all of our artists were excited to have so much creative control.” Instead, he spent a “few thousand” on a UV overlay and rounded edges opposite the book’s spine. And while turning the reigns over to an artist featured in the pages of the magazine might smack of ethical blurriness, Fallah doesn’t see it that way. “We wanted to feature him with or without the cover.”

Our design panel says: “Striking illustration … it may work for this audience, but the cover lines are impossible to read … the logo is overshadowed by the illustration … like the rounded edges, though I’m not sure what value it adds … fluorescent colors are already back to being cliché, but the pink works here … More of a poster than a cover.”

The Panel: Charles Brucaliere, Forbes; Holland Utley, Design Director, Glamour; Bill Bridgeforth, Beckett Media; Iris A. Stein, AD, Scuba Diving; Daniel Stark, Stark Design