Welcome back to Magazine of the Week, everyone!
This week’s title is an oldie but goodie. Fortune magazine was born in halls of Time magazine, thought up by Time’s creator, Henry Luce. He submitted his proposal for the magazine to Time, Inc. board of directors in February 1929, and had to argue for it once more in October, after the stock market crashed. The first issue was published in February, 1930. It was a monthly of grand scale, 11″x14″ and gravure printed on artist paper and cost $1.00/issue during the Great Depression.
Luce’s vision was to create “as beautiful a magazine as exists in the United States. If possible, the undisputed most beautiful.” He hired Thomas Maitland Cleland, American’s foremost authority on type and design, to create the magazine. He also gave a chance to a publishing newcomer, Eleanor Treacy, who developed into a brilliant art director. The Fortune magazines of the 1930s and 1940s contain some of the loveliest (and most influential) imagery by the bests artists of their day: illustrators, painters, and photographers. (These issues are in our open stacks on the 4th floor of the library, next time you want to browse something inspirational.)
The magazine covered the business world, which Luce saw as the Great American Story. This included coverage of different sides of the manufacturing process and sharp reporting on World War II (1939-1941). With the arrival of the post-war American industrial boom, Luce’s vision for the magazine changed. He lost interest in the artistic presentation and refocused the title on “a magazine with a mission… to assist in the successful development of American business enterprise at home and abroad.”
(All Luce quotes from the book “Fortune: the Art of Covering Business”.)
Since the post-war era, the magazine has been redesigned several times. The most recent reconception of the title was in 2016, where the editorial team rethought the title in order to serve the business needs of the 21st-century corporation.