Imaginary Interview: Which historical designer would you most like to interview?
Cipe Pineles is an Austrian immigrant, now working as an American graphic designer and art director at Seventeen, Charm, Glamour, and Mademoiselle. Moving into America at young age, she later graduated Pratt University and was offered a job at Contempora Ltd. She has worked at Vanity Fair and Vogue, the world’s number one influential fashion magazine. Pineles is emphasized as the first woman art director of a mass market periodical, having her own innovative strategy of employing established artists for magazine illustration such as Ben Shahn and Andy Warhol. Her designs have established her independent reputation as a talented modern graphic designer.
The interviewer Erin Kwon, had an interview with Cipe Pineles, all the way from her beginnings of inspiration to now, of her art career.
Q: Before starting off, I would like to say thank you to Cipe Pineles for having an interview with us. Could you tell us how you were inspired to work as a magazine graphic designer?
Thank you, I am glad to have an interview with you guys. During the time I was working at Conde Nast, Mehemed Agha and his influence of graphic design style led me to here. He was same as editors of Vanity Fair, being open to progressive design than previous editorial magazine, Fortune. Like really, he has such a unique style of Art Deco style, how he is able to successfully synthesize a new kind of layout and typography, revealing the clarity of Constructivism. Perhaps his own ideas of design with the first usage of full bleed is still inspiring other designers. More than that, I was also learned how to be an art director. Agha spent a lot of time talking with his creative people about problems related to type. Agha was in charge of art director while I was hired by Conde Nast, working at Vanity Fair and Vogue. He influenced me and the other protégés at Conde Nast, such as Alex Liberman. Yes, he was the most fabulous boss to work for.
Q: I see that, so Mehemed Agha is like your motto towards the art director. Even before attending Pratt university, have you had any other art related careers?
I first attended Bay Ridge High School in Brooklyn and won a Tiffany Foundation Scholarship to Pratt University, studying fine arts. After graduating Pratt University, I was a 20-year-old amateur illustrator, walking around New York to sell paintings of coca cola bottles and sandwiches. Before getting into graphic design, I had a huge love of food, especially recipes. I experienced drawing and painting of food, with my one of the earliest paintings the watercolor render of bread and chocolate.
Q: It is really opposite between the illustration of food and the fashion magazine cover design. Have you revealed your passion towards food afterwards?
I privately kept books full of ingredients and recipes, while I was working as a fashion magazine graphic designer. I tried to manage both the illustration of food and graphic design, so I included my paintings of potatoes spreading out as the border design of Seventeen magazine, the one I am in charge as an art director.
Seventeen, February 1948, pp. 90–91.
Q: It is very interesting to combine both of them together as one whole design. Getting into your discussion of graphic design, is there a reason why you chose the title of ‘Vogue’ as a decorative script?
The April 1st, 1939 cover of Vogue is the work while I was working at Conde Nast. It might look a little bit special since most covers of Vogue have the elegant Bodoni font, but I tried to handle with the title in alternate technique, by writing in a decorous script. Agha has never established a fixed set of principles for the front cover of Vogue, instead letting the design into freedom starting from scratch.
Cipe Pineles, Vogue. Cover, April 1, 1939. Conde Nast Publications
Q: What was your purpose of the design of July, 1949 Seventeen Magazine cover?
First of all, the font of the title, or logo is really contrasted to Vogue, discussed earlier. It is generally standardized in lowercase of Bodoni with italic form. with the history of constant change of logo design to fit each issue’s image. The choice of photograph is my favorite, the full shot of Francesco Scavullo. I used it as part of the design element, then reflected the whole design in order to make the audience’s view to glance towards the reflected image, perhaps emphasizing as the reflection of water. Although the image original and the reflection are not exactly same, it is on purpose to show the true nature of the cover. Lastly, the color palette of the red, white, and blue represents the holiday of July 4th, just as the month and season the magazine was published.
Cipe Pineles, Seventeen. Cover, July, 1949. Conde Nast Publications
Q: As you became an art director, what are your instructions for different kinds of artists, to illustrate mass-market publications?
I ask artists to read the whole story of the topic, then let them to choose and illustrate whatever they want as long as the commissioned work is good enough to hang with their other work in a gallery. Fine artists are also included in this group of artists, because they need opportunity to access into the commercial world. Since I studied fine art, I wanted to bring fine art and modern design, bringing contemporary art to the eye of the young mainstream public.
Q: Before ending the interview, how do you feel as the first independent woman art director in male profession?
As a woman art director, I hope lots of female graphic designers and artists of next generations are encouraged to maintain their dreams and passion towards art.
Q: It was an honor to have an interview on this spot. Thank you very much for today, Cipe Pineles.
What a pleasure, thank you very much for me to have an opportunity to interview with you guys.
Christy, Emily. “Editorial Design: A Closer Look at Cipe Pineles.” History of Graphic Design, 6 Apr. 2014, emilychristy.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/editorial-design-a-closer-look-at-cipe-pineles-2/.
Eskilson, Stephen J. Graphic Design: a New History. Yale University Press, 2012.
Scotford, Martha. “Cipe Pineles.” AIGA | the Professional Association for Design, www.aiga.org/medalist-cipepineles.
Vianello, Laura. “Cipe Pineles, and the Modern Magazine Layout. – Laura Vianello – Medium.” Medium, Medium, 8 Nov. 2015, medium.com/@LauraVianello/cipe-pineles-and-the-modern-magazine-layout-41e0ba68cf78.
Official Cipe Pineles Website: https://www.cipepineles.com/