As a teenager in the 1960s, I had little access to pornography. By the time I was old enough, Playboy had been outdone by Penthouse, so I never paid much attention to it.
When I started my career in advertising in Toronto in the late ’70s, coming from a fine art background in the UK, I gave myself a crash course in North American advertising from old Playboys. It was a cornucopia of photography, illustration, typography and design, with the originals of many of the award-winning ads from the New York Art Directors Club competitions, the annuals of which I also collected.
Playboy was a very fat magazine with a circulation of around 6 million in its heyday, with a bigger format than Time, but not as big as Life or Look. The prime print media buy for Mad Men, no doubt.
It was also art directed from issue one by Art Paul until 1982, and he sure used a lot of different typefaces for the titles of articles.
Quite apart from the pin-ups and the interviews and the well-known writers, there is another aspect of Playboy which is generally overlooked—its graphic design, in both editorial and advertising. Hugh Hefner worked with Paul, giving him a lot of room to create.
“For Paul—student at the Institute of Design, commonly called the Chicago Bauhaus—Playboy was a laboratory for producing a model of contemporary magazine design and illustration...Paul helped create a forum that demolished artistic and cultural boundaries. In doing so, he transformed magazine illustration.” — Stephen Heller.
I don’t know who created this 1967 ad, but for me it’s most iconic of that era.
Isn’t that tight-but-not-touching Goudy something?!
(The body copy is Times.)