This one gets a post all it’s own. Thanks for writing. I think Japanese magazines have a look that’s all their own. Sure there’s great examples of cluttered, and it’s a place where their Kanji text looks like a logo every time it’s used in a headline. I think if you look at the weekly mags, they look just as bad as US Weekly. Cluttered, packed with junk, and so on. It’s about the content and that has to be done quick. But then take a look at Brutus, it’s a bit cluttered, but the work that goes into that editorial is amazing. It’s a bundle of content, for a low price, and it’s decently done. Relax magazine was once the gold standard for nice magazines in Japan. Clean layout, great images, awesome content, and I could hardly read it. It’s done like a design magazine. Casa Brutus, another fine example of a nicely done magazine. These aren’t indie magazine operations, these are funded and are owned by large publishing houses. They have ads, they make their money, and the design doesn’t suffer. I think there’s plenty of ads in Japan, it just depends on which magazines and so on. I think part of what you see here isn’t the creme of the crop… unless you dig a bit. It’s fun to see the magazines like Cutie which do the street snap photos. Why can’t they do that in the US? They shouldn’t. It would be filled with crappy photos. The kids in Japan, spend a lot on their gear if they’re in certain areas and they always look good.
Catalogs are another story. I guess I don’t really look at catalogs, except Muji. Those catalogs are quite nice. It’s like a treat when I can grab one.
Speaking about catalogs, I’ve always liked looking at catalogs from all over the world, (when I can find them). It’s interesting for me to see the difference in layouts, products, ads, etc.The same for magazines, I’ve always liked scanning the mag stands looking for new or different magazines.
I’ve always noticed that many times catalog and magazine designs from Japan look cluttered. Compared to a western magazine, it might have 3 times more products shown on a page. I feel sorry for the proof reader. And then there seems to be a lot less ads. How do they survive without ads? When my Japanese friends look at a western magazine or catalog, they tell me that they look sparse and have too many ads. So from the design standpoint, is it a cultural perception about what a magazine should look like?, is it a matter of economics?, a perception of how space should be used? Design is so important to Japan, I’ve always just wondered why it looks like not much attention is put into the design of their magazines and catalogs.