Joel Speasmaker and Anthem Magazine

Boston doesn’t have many great spots to pick up magazines. But the Barnes and Nobles in my new neighborhood has been able to satisfy my publication love. So, I was pleasantly surprised to revisit an old friend of mine, Anthem Magazine.

Anthem Magazine has been around for quite sometime. I believe they started around the turn of the millennium, (someone want to confirm this?) It’s always been a pleasant magazine to peruse and they continue to maintain a level of quality that’s increasingly rare in their publishing niche, (youth/music/lifestyle.) They raise the bar for West Coast, SoCal publications and easily beat out magazines like FLAUNT, SWINDLE, and FILTER, (a descending list.) It’s not a completely unique publication. They cover young creatives and try to capture youth in as classy a way a magazine can. I think Anthem today, does what Tokion did years ago.

So, to add to Anthem’s list of credentials is a new art director! Joel Speasmaker, of the DRAMA fame, has recently redesigned Anthem and I am very impressed. Anthem has slowly been moving towards a more sophisticated, fashion-centered magazine the likes of Purple. The transition has been slow and steady which, IMHO, is very wise. Joel Speasmaker’s design work on Anthem really shows a great sense of grace and maturity. I think he learned a LOT of lessons publishing the DRAMA, which unfortunately had to close its doors last year. I was able to snag a few old issues of it before it died and I must say that it ended on a very good note. The trouble with art magazines is 1) they try to hard to be cool, or 2) they’re incredibly boring and detached. Speasmaker walked that tight rope really well. From an editorial standpoint it was fun, quiet, and inspiring. From a design standpoint it was clean, clear, and refreshing like a spring shower.

The Anthem’s new design shows that same restraint with a matured sense of typography. The Anthem, before it was retouched, was at a strange point. It wanted dreadfully to adopt the industrial sterileness of European fashion magazines like 032c, or Fantastic Man. They were using a condensed gothic typeface and trying to include more “blackspace”… It wasn’t really working out. But this new design really gets them there. It’s very, clean and isn’t too derivivative of any one thing. You can see that Speasmaker has been looking at a lot of European publications with such moves as process-blue printing. His sense of color is very playfully modern throughout the book, (Paul Rand would smile.) So, go out an take a look for yourself! Ironically, Speasmaker is the comics editor at Swindle.


  1. Chris Ro says:

    I’m going to have to check this out. I still am a big fan of FLAUNT. Although I haven’t checked one out in quite a while. Thanks for the info James.

  2. neames says:

    I just picked this up the other day and was pretty impressed as well. I believe it was first published in 1998. The redesign has a nice sensibility to space and rhythm that is very inviting. I am definitely excited to see more!

  3. Good Riddance says:

    Anthem blows. They screwed over all their contributors (Including Speasmaker from what I heard).
    I’m glad they’re gone.

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