Vintage Magazine Covers with a “Wow Factor”

Back in the day, it was considered to be very prestigious to have your artwork or photograph featured on a magazine cover, and some of the greatest artists of our time designed magazine covers.

While we have by no means even begun to scratch the surface of what is available with this collection, you will see the work of Jean Cocteau, Dr. Seuss, and various international contemporary artists displayed in a collection that spans from the beginning of the twentieth century to the eighties.

Some were chosen for their vintage value, some for their artistic excellence, and some because of their humour.

Here are over 40 great examples of vintage magazine covers with a ‘wow’ factor.

Life Magazine, October 9, 1913

Artist: R.M. Crosby
This semi-nude figure was extremely risque for the time.


Vogue, Feb 15, 1917

Artist: Unknown
This whimsical illustration begins to evoke an early modern style seen more widely in the 1920’s.


McCall’s August 1917

Artist: Dugald Walker
Walker was influenced by the Art Nouveau movement and Impressionism.


Dada Magazine, December 1918

Artist: M. Janco
M. Janco did cover art for a few of the editions of this seminal magazine of Dadaism.


Life Magazine, February 2, 1922

Artist: “The Flapper” by Frank X. Leyendecker
Leyendecker was known for his stained glass as well as his advertising illustration work. This cover is his most famous.


Vogue, 1926

Artist: Eduardo Garcia Benito
Benito did a number of Art Deco style covers for Vogue in the 1920’s.


People’s Home Journal, February 1924

Artist: Walter Maya
This beautifully symmetrical illustration was done by a lesser-known illustrator that did a few more covers for the People’s Home Journal.


Life Magazine, February 18, 1926

Artist: John Held, Jr.
Held sold his first drawing to Life at age fifteen and illustrated for many magazines throughout the flapper age. People would send him blank cheques and beg for original drawings.


Vogue, November 1927

Artist: George Lepape
After studying at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, Lepape produced innumerable Art Deco illustrations.


Life Magazine, September 28, 1928.

Artist: Russell Patterson
This comic artist studied at the Chicago Institute of Art and under Claude Monet in Paris from 1920-1925.


Gran Bazaar, February/March 1930

Artist: Lucio Venna
Venna was an Italian contemporary artist.


Illustracao, September 1930

Artist: Antonio Fino
This Portugese design magazine featured some outstanding graphic designs.


Vanity Fair, 1930

Artist: Jean Carlu
While this Cubist-influenced designer was known for his posters, he did a number of illustrations for Vanity Fair.


Judge, March 19, 1932

Artist: Vernon Grant
Vernon Grant is best known for creating the Snap, Crackle and Pop characters for Rice Krispies cereal. He was also a prolific illustrator of many magazine covers.


Natura, 1933

Artist: Paolo Garretto
Garretto was a giant in the advertising world in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but fell out of favour both during and after the war due to his political alignments with Mussolini.


Popular Science, June 1933

Artist: Edgar Franklin Wittmack
Wittmack was best known for his Popular Science covers produced during the Depression.


Popular Science, April 1933

Artist: Edgar Franklin Wittmack


Life, May 1934

Artist: Dr. Seuss
Theodor Geisel began his career as a prolific illustrator under his own name, but began adopting his more well-known name “Dr. Seuss” as he wanted to start marketing himself as a children’s book illustrator.


Story March 1940

Artist: Unknown
This women’s fashion magazine from Japan featured beautiful illustrations on its covers.


Saturday Evening Post, October 6, 1945

Artist: Alajalor
This lesser-known illustrator also did covers for the New Yorker and further covers for the Post.


Gourmet, January 1947

Artist: Henry Stahlhut
This artist illustrated a few covers for Gourmet, which announced that it was folding in 2009.


Fortune, November 1951

Artist: Jerome Snyder
Leo Lionni, a Dutch-Born artist was the Art Director for Fortune and the co-editor of Print Magazine. He oversaw the production of Fortune covers for a few years in the 1950’s. The artist, Jerome Snyder, was the first Art Director of Sports Illustrated.


“Gebrauchsgraphik – International Advertising Art”, January 1952

Artist: Unknown
Gebrauchsgraphik was an important forerunner of the design and graphics magazines that we have today.


“Gebrauchsgraphik – International Advertising Art”, February 1952

Artist: Unknown


“Gebrauchsgraphik – International Advertising Art”, December 1952

Artist: Jean Cocteau
Artist, playwright and filmmaker Jean Cocteau was one of the more influential artists of the 20th century.


“Gebrauchsgraphik – International Advertising Art”, August 1952

Artist: Breker


People, July 29, 1953

Photographer: Unknown
This was just one of the many magazine covers featuring the famous actress, Marilyn Monroe. Note that it was taken before the age of Photoshop and she still looks awesome.


Fortune, April 1953

Artist: N. Foujita
Another remarkable Lionni cover for Fortune, drawn by N. Foujita.


Print Magazine, Sept.-Oct. 1955

Artist: Unknown
This popular magazine for graphic designers and artists in the magazine and advertising industries got its start in 1940.


Glamour Photography, Summer 1957

Artist: Unknown
This is a great example of the “girlie magazine” covers of the 1950’s. Other titles that feature similar covers are “Wink” and “Titter”. In order to get around morality laws of the time, publishers had to present the magazine as art-based.


Better Homes & Gardens, September 1958

Artist: Jan Balet
Balet studied at the Arts and Crafts school in Munich and left in protest after Hitler took over Germany. His prolific work appeared in many fashion magazines and in advertising. He passed away in 2009.


Esquire, January 1958

Artist: Unknown
Esquire frequently featured covers with outstanding design.


The Journal of Commercial Art, October, 1959

Artist: Unknown
This cover appeared in the first year of the Journal, now known as Communication Arts magazine.


Journal of Commercial Art, August 1961

Artist: Lowell Herrero
Herrero’s career as an illustrator and fine artist has spanned the Depression, WWII, and the rise of Silicon Valley. He now devotes most of his time to his paintings.


Design, June 1961

Artist: Unknown
This cover was conceived under the eye of Design’s Art Director, Ken Garland.


Sports Illustrated, April 3, 1961

Artist: Unknown
This cover takes Sports Illustrated back to its roots in the 1930’s, when it was known as “American Golfer”.


Design, February 1968

Artist: Unknown
This cover refers to the fading influence of the “Mod” culture of Carnaby Street in London. Note Batman.


Which?, July 1968

Artist: Unknown
This UK magazine is still published today as the British equivalent of Consumer Reports.


November 1968, Design

Artist: Unknown


Life, August 21, 1970

Photographer: Unknown
This cover marks the transition from “swinging 60’s” fashion to the more dowdy early 70’s.


Car, November 1973

Photographer: Unknown
The 1970’s were responsible for some of the worst “lemon cars” in history. This cover confirms it.


Viva Magazine, August 1974

Photographer: Unknown
This cover speaks for itself.


Compute, July 1984

Artist: Harry Blair
While we could have included any number of corny 80’s computer magazines in this collection, this cover is notable for its coverage of the new Apple IIc and the promise of creating graphics “the easy way” with Atari Artist.


Print Magazine, March/April 1988

Artist: Unknown
Print continues to be a go-to source for those in the design industries and fans of popular culture.


Do you have a favourite magazine cover from back in the day? Please post it in our comments section.



0 shares
  • http://www.squiders.com Web Design Maidstone

    Awesome some really great covers

  • pesho

    really great
    Thanks

  • Evi

    They really need to bring some of these back. These are great!

  • http://tr.im/mewC Rahul – Web Guru

    Nice to see such professional illustrations and images of the past. Really good. (y)

  • http://jacobyap.com Jacob Yap

    Really nice, Thanks!

  • http://www.robnickels.com Rob

    How can you not have any OMNI magazine covers??
    shameful.

  • http://www.moinid.com Creative Ideas

    That was a good time. Amazing vintage posters

  • http://www.classesandcareers.com/ Teacher Teacher

    An appealing collection for the most part. My favorite was Story March 1940. I liked the mix of romance and humor in the Oct 45 Post cover too.

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com Zhu

    I’m pretty sure the cover of the “Japanese” magazine is in fact Chinese. ;-)

  • http://sexidesign.com Melody

    Love the butterfly!!!! And I want the dress she has on haha.. :)

  • RoaldA

    Cant say anything but WOW, really! Liked Judge! :D

  • http://www.chotrul.com Chotrul

    Vogue, Feb 15, 1917 is really stunning. So evocative.

    Thanks for sharing these … they are really inspiring.

  • http://www.creativeindividual.co.uk Laura

    What a wide range of styles and skills.
    Interesting to see illustration on fashion magazines, as opposed to samey photography of airbrushed models and unrealistic standards…at least you KNOW an illustration isn’t real!
    The print mag covers were very interesting.
    Thanks for this journey into the past.

  • http://www.aledesign.it aledesign.it

    So good. Some examples are really nice! Especially the illustrated covers! Thanks!

  • http://www.jannis-gerlinger.de Jannis Gerlinger

    The retro style rooooocks!Very nice!

  • http://evelt.com joel k.

    is some thing wrong with me?
    i do not go for vintage ….
    i like good water art but i don’t see the “glamour” HELP

  • http://www.720media.com Taa Dixon

    Wow! love these covers…good design never grows old

  • http://www.meki.co.uk Graham

    People, July 29, 1953

    No, No, No! just because they didn’t have PhotoShop in 53 doesn’t mean that they didn’t do a huge amount of retouching! I did it for years, both on prints and directly onto negs – with a real ‘Develbiss’ airbrush and real sable brushes from Russia! Still, PhotoShop is way quicker and a lot less messy! G

  • http://www.jennamolby.com Jenna Molby

    WOW! Love this collection, Thanks!

  • http://romarto.com Romarto / website designer

    Car, November 1973 – “Car” title is just awesome !
    dozens of years before photoshop was invented :)

  • http://imageloading.co.uk/ Ray Campbell

    Designing and Illustrating since 1973… there have been golden eras of design, one of which I lived through but… now that the whole world is a graphic designer, it’s time for a new golden era in order to separate the men from the boys (and the women from the girls).

  • http://www.aliyildiz.co.uk Ali

    nice selection, l like the leggy life magazine, wonderfull image. nice article

  • Tray

    Wow. Is it just me or did Art just totally start sucking from the 50’s to the late 70’s??? I mean some of those covers are just godaweful ugly. Wow.

  • http://www.misty-blue.net Sarah

    Really amazing collection! I definitely agree with you, Tray– I’m not a fan of when 60s psychadelic design kicked in and then when those weird 70s color palettes took over.

  • http://www.zoombits.de/speicherkarten/usb-sticks/memory2go-8gb-usb-stick/5804 8gb usb stick

    Hi,
    Wonderful collection.Each picture is spreading different and meaningful message.I liked Life Magazine the most.

  • JOSH

    I LOVE THIS COLLECTION ITS SO GREAT, I CAN USE THEM FOR MY SCHOOL HOMEWORK FOR HISTORY CLASS

  • http://www.chaussuressportsfr.com maryiop

    I definitely agree with you,

  • http://izh-sale.ru/ Магазины Ижевска magIZH

    +1 agree

  • http://www.stroidoc.org.ua stroi

    Good collection! Thanks!

  • http://www.take2vintage.com Robyn

    Wow, thanks for taking the time to post this! I really enjoyed looking through them all and even learned some new names (e.g. Leo Lionni) of illustrators to research.

  • http://www.magforum.com Tony Quinn

    Nice eclectic selection. My website Magforum has many pages about covers, such as http://www.magforum.com/cover_secrets3.htm

    I’d also recommend Chris Mullen’s Full Table

    http://www.fulltable.com/VTS/j/jg/j.htm

    The Judge covers are well worth scrutiny as a start.

    Tony Quinn

  • Bob Weissman

    Marshall field put out a magazine with some great Art Deco covers in the 20s and 30s. It was called “Fashions Of The Hour”. An artist named Pierre Bolegard did lots of the art . Simply great looking stuff.

  • http://celebes2.wordpress.com Celebes

    Wow!!! Very nice collection!

  • http://todaysinspiration.blogspot.com Leif Peng

    Three of the covers in this collection came from my Flickr archives of mid-20th century illustration: http://www.flickr.com/photos/leifpeng/sets/ You can find nearly 10,000 images similar to these in my archives.

    A couple of corrections:

    The Fortune magazine cover of the stylized jet fighter is by Neil Fujita, not “Foujita” – he was primarily a graphic designer, not an illustrator, but I think this piece is particularly beautiful nonetheless.

    The Sports Illustrated cover is by Bernie Fuchs, one of the most important and most celebrated illustrators of the 20th century. You can read about him and his first encounter w/ Sports Illustrated at http://illustrationart.blogspot.com/2009/03/bernie-fuchs.html

  • http://www.coches.com coches

    Really really a very good selection.
    Congratulations!
    We want more!