Magazine of the Week

Cover of Life magazine during WWII

In the early 20th century, photography was novel and exciting. Magazines printed few¬† photographs because they were expensive. Into this market marched the magazine Life, redesigned to feature photographs of everything that could possibly be interesting to its middle-American public. It’s contribution to American culture rests on its photographers, who captured, and its printers, who distributed some of the most iconic images of American culture from the 1940s through the 1970s.

Life magazine cover showing couple and heart
Cole Phillips illustration for Life, February 20, 1908 cover



Founded in 1883 by an architect and an illustrator, the illustrated magazine originally specialized in skewering pop culture with a humorous tone, like Britain’s Punch or Harvard’s Lampoon. One of the most important contributors during this period was Charles Dana Gibson, illustrator of the new American woman, known as the Gibson girl. Additionally, Life featured stories from contemporary writers as well.

The magazine suffered with the change in culture brought by WWI, and began to lose money. When Henry Luce Booth bought the title in 1936, he sold the content concepts and subscription list to a competing magazine.




Booth had a distinct strategy for his new purchase. He added the title Life to his Time, Inc. holdings, and recreated the title as a vehicle for culture as expressed through photography. His editorial layouts allowed the images to dominate. The magazine’s content ranged from international travel, society coverage and visits by and to foreign royalty, world leaders, and daily life across the continent.

A soldier sleeps on a recently bombed beach
A soldier sleeps after a battle in the south Pacific



Luce’s vision for the magazine would enable “the American public to see life; to see the world’ to eyewitness great events; to watch the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud.” (Life: A Prospectus for a New Magazine, 1936)

When the United States joined WWII, Life shifted its considerable resources to assist in the war effort. Soldiers were featured and celebrated, military machinery was examined and wartime rationing encouraged in the magazines pages. The editorial tone could be harsh as well. Photos included the dying after battle as well as enthusiastic features on prominent generals.



Life cover with premature baby in doctor's hands
Life’s last cover, May 2000



The magazine continued to cover a wide range of topics, from film and theatrical personalities to medical breakthroughs, major engineering projects, the civil rights movement and the Kennedy assassinations. Life magazine was a coffee table book of images that captured middle America and told its story.

Like television at its beginning, Life created a centralized vision of American life, told from a middle-class point of view. It’s aim to tell the stories using images preceded Instagram and Tumblr by a century. In the end, television, by providing more and more vivid images of more diverse ways of life, helped kill this iconic American magazine.



In addition to television visuals, the decreasing cost of personal cameras brought the power to capture dramatic images to everyone. Despite Life’s critical success, the magazine’s circulation dwindled throughout the 1960s. By 1972, the title had to shift from its weekly format to a monthly one, in order to keep costs down. It went on a brief hiatus, publishing only special reports during the next six years. It ran as a monthly news features magazine from 1978 till it finally ceased regular publication with the May 2000 issue.




Wikipedia’s article on Life magazine


Posted in FIT Library, history, magazine of the week, media | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Librarians explore FIT Textile Labs


Professor Silberman shows us the Quality Assurance Lab
Professor Silberman met a library group at the Quality Assurance Lab


When you work in the Pomerantz Center, like the library people do, it can seem like FIT life takes place far away. In order for us to find out more about programs on campus, we have field trips. Last November, we took a tour of the Textile Quality Assurance Lab, the Textile Coloration Lab, and the Knit Lab. Professor Jeffrey Silberman was kind enough to show us around.

Librarians listen to Professor Silberman
Professor Silberman explains an abrasion testing machine to FIT librarians


The FIT Textile Development and Marketing program is one of the more technically oriented programs here at the school. The curriculum explores the science of textile testing, dyeing, and finishing. The TDM faculty also work with industry professionals on quality standard testing projects, because FIT has both the knowledgeable personnel and the awesome Quality Assurance Lab.

A student finishes up a Textile Science lab
A student finishes up a Textile Science lab




In addition, these labs are where students learn basic textile chemistry, which includes testing to identify fibers, learn about solvents and fiber-chemical reactions (i.e. have you every spilled nail polish remover on an acetate lining?), as well as experiment with dyes and dye plants.






Camomile flowers drying for use as a dyestuff
Camomile flowers drying for use as a dyestuff




My favorite part of the tour was the micro-climatized booth where the students are currently growing indigo. I didn’t get a picture, though. Just one of this batch of drying camomile, which makes a yellow dye.





Librarians explore the color lab
The library group explores the color lab







After we explored the various testing labs, Professor Silberman took us over to the Feldman building basement knitting lab. Many of the library crew are hand knitters, so this was of particular interest to us.

Checking out the wall of color cones at the knitting lab
Checking out the wall of color cones at the knitting lab


We were fortunate that our visit coincided with student work times. We got to see one of the large bed fine gauge knitting machines knit up a sleeve that is part of a student’s semester project.

The knitting lab tech shows us the finished sleeve
The knitting lab tech shows us the finished sleeve


Professor Silberman pointed out that most students don’t dream of becoming textile techs, but it is where a lot of textile design students get jobs. I know that when I was an assistant designer, a lot of my day to day responsibilities included checking color lab dips and print goods qualities, so I cannot recommend getting some textile science background highly enough. The FIT Library thanks Professor Silberman again for this fun and informative tour!


The Textile Development and Marketing program at FIT

Posted in design, libraries, library programs, textiles | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Magazine of the Week


Mix magazine cover art

Welcome back! This week’s magazine, Mix, is the publication of the Colour Hive, a London-based color forecasting agency. It is published 4 times a year. Mix focuses primarily on color, materials and finishes for the interiors and graphic design markets.

Mix concept page in blues, purples and golds



Colour Hive provides directional photography, color palettes by materials, related art direction and trend-related still-life photography, and social-media copy writing. These materials are produced by their trend reporting and forecasting team.






Mix concepts for surface textures





The magazine offers color palettes which develop seasonally illustrated with inspirational images. Color reporting offers regional variation. Pantone numbers accompany colors for ease of access. Sections on lighting, textiles, high street (fashion), accessories, illustrating broader trends within niche categories and in specific material applications.



Mix concepts in lighting



Each issue presents forecasts organized in larger concepts, such as “mask” and “parade”. These are then presented throughout the issue illustrated with stunning images.


The Colour Hive blog

Colour Hive and color for your brand (ad)

Posted in architecture, design, fashion, FIT Library, media, textiles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment