Terry Jones by Veronica Maitin

Terry Jones is the founder and creative director of i-D magazine. Since 1977 his Instant Design studio has produced catalogues, campaigns, exhibitions and books; including, Smile i-D[1], Fashion Now 1[2], Fashion Now 2[3] and Soul i-D[4].

Jones is recognized as one of the most important creative directors of his generation. He studied Graphics at the England College of Art in Bristol, his first job was as Ivan Dodd’s assistant, which then lead him to what is now his main field — the publication world. He started as an art director for Vanity Fair and Vogue UK, then becoming an art consultant for various international publications. After leaving Vogue, he developed a design style that had a handmade quality to it. His designs came together through graphic devices such as, handwriting, stencils, typewriters, collage layouts and hand-drawn sketches; creating the illusion of what he refers to as “instant design”. “I wanted the physical side of design where it was made with a sense of urgency and the idea that it was made just before you picked it up and read it…Conceptually I wanted it to reflect that moment in time. And by using hand skills, we could do that.” [5]

In 1980 he launched i-D, a magazine in which graphic style and focus matter has had a huge influence in magazine and advertising design. The magazine started out as a rough home produced booklet that was clamped together, it portrayed the British subculture and took inspiration from the street style of the time. The first issue of i-D sold no more than 50 copies; mainly because of to the way it was presented. Jones then began the process, with the help of Tony Elliot (Time Out publisher), of turning i-D into a more commercial newsstand product. Subsequently, he spent several years focused on the advertising and art direction to bring the magazine’s original visionary concept of innovation and style, to an instant design-led monthly base for fashion.

“The idea was to break down the pigeon-holing of identity and fashion; to go beyond the façade of fashion so you could play it as a game. So you could have more fun with the codes of fashion,”[6] explains Terry Jones about the concept of taking “on the spot” photographs of people on the street, clubs and bars. Where the street style concept was raw on the shot, with the idea that anybody could wear anything with attitude. While the magazine came along way from being stapled, it maintained its theme of creativity and self-expression, rather than focusing on more commercial aspects like money; which is why he refuses to print the prices next to the garments shown in i-D.

In an interview for AIGA with Steven Heller, Terry Jones explains his innovative design concepts and principles. “I responded to structured design by attempting to deconstruct. I was more inspired by Dada, Russian Constructivism and Pop Art than a rigid, geomantic structure. I followed a gut instinct that still had behind it a rationale based on Gestalt design. I applied the grids in a more dynamic and anarchic system. By applying the ideas of controlled chaos I used a different set of rules. Chaos follows a cyclical pattern, so my design ideas continue to work in the same way that a circle works as in the chaos theory.”[7]


[1] http://www.schaden.com/book/JonTerSmi01060.html

[2] http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/fashion/reading_room/16.fashion_now.1.htm

[3] http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/fashion/all/05411/facts.fashion_now_2.htm

[4] http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/popculture/all/04432/facts.soul_i_d.htm

[5] The Independent. “i-D magazine: Identity parade.” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/id-magazine-identity-parade-510928.html

[6] The Independent. “i-D magazine: Identity parade.” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/id-magazine-identity-parade-510928.html

[7] Steven Heller, “Defining Style, Making i-D: An Interview with Terry Jones.” AIGA. http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/defining-style-making-i-d

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One thought on “Terry Jones by Veronica Maitin

  1. i-D started as a fanzine that grew into street-style magazine because the staples made readers bleed on other magazines at the newstand. It featured the “man on the street,” local cover models and made quite a few of them into local celebrities. It has since been coopted into another venue for celebrities and so, in my opinion, it has lost its raw energy and uniqueness.

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