“Each Monday, Hans-Georg Pospischil, the art director for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazin, performs a special magic trick—in total darkness and without an audience. For the design of his weekend insert to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), a conservative daily newspaper with a 450,000 international circulation, he conjures up these award winning editorial pages.
Instead of assembling traditional layouts by hand or on the computer, he sets up Kodak slide projectors in his office where dummy paper is taped to black cardboard on the back of his door. He turns off the lights and using a zoom lens enlarges the images to the desired sizes onto the layout paper. Then he outlines the contours of the images with a pen and fills the remaining spaces with dummy text for body copy and his chosen type treatment for headlines.
In keeping with his philosophy of leaving well enough alone, he’ll never manipulate a typeface*. ‘I do not succumb to the pressure of distorting a given type by making it taller or fatter,’ he explains. "I have too much respect for the original designers who obviously thought in great detail about how their work looks best. I leave the typeface untouched, and I only try to set it in the best possible way. This is why we use the computer. When we used to get our headlines back from the typesetters, the spacing between the letters was so horrible that we had to cut each letter apart and repaste each word over again.”
— U&lc, Vol. 20, No. 4, 1994 [PDF]
* The author was referring only to stretching type, because Pospischil did quite often modify fonts for his custom headline treatments. Three examples of this manipulation are shown here: extra dots are added to Pin Ball for film producer “Arthur Cohn”, connecting lines turn Koloss into a pseudo script for pole-vaulting Olympian “Sergei Bubka”, and Beat Star is trimmed judiciously to allow for some extra tight spacing in “Mazar-i Scharif”.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazin had a reputation for great design ever since it launched in 1980 with Willy Fleckhaus as art director. Pospischil was Fleckhaus’ protégé and took over when Fleckhaus died in 1983.
Contributed by Nick Sherman
Contributed by Chris Skiles